There aren’t enough words to fill the page to describe just how exhilarating, revolutionary (there’s that thought again), amid the sheer utter brilliance of artists from all disciplines and certainly in some cases undisciplined, step forward The Goons – I’m Walking Backwards for Christmas, which are yours to experience here. From moments capturing the clear moonlight, haunting beauty of Richard Burton’s telling of To Begin at the Beginning, from Under Milk Wood – A Play for Voices to John Cage’s twisted treatments to Sun Ra’s Advice To Medics there might indeed be something for everyone.
It’s that canny collaboration of spoken words i.e. poetry plus the mind-expanding Classics of Debussy, Delia Derbyshire along with Pierre Schaeffer and Dave Brubeck’s Take Five, Purcell, Strauss and Elgar that truly capture the exceptional nature of this series. Genre free because this is all about music in and of itself reading the nature of things while spinning it back to you in ever evolving ways. Suitably said to be: Classical and Avant-Garde Music that inspired the Sixties Counter Culture this is quintessentially nostalgic yet at the same time sounding timeless like way beyond the future. The flight continues on from Jack Kerouac to Oscar Peterson Trio’s autumnal version of Jet Song to Gustav Mahler’s heady rush of orchestration – Symphony No.9 in D major: First Movement producing the effect that what is discovered within these four CD’s tests the boundaries of all Art with a capitol A. It’s that simple.
If music of distinction is about provoking emotions, while capturing the essence of the human spirit in all its complexities, then for some inexplicable, perhaps even hidden reason The Durutti Column’s Vini Reilly springs to mind when listening to the opening sequence of Metamorphosis of Narcissus. Not in a nostalgic way but reinforcing the possibilities of creative excitement and forward reaching motion, just like he did, within the power of sound to grasp at the radical contrast between revolution and romance, rather than the safe, soft escape into a rose-tinted history which is so prevalent today.
However, a little after mid-point all of that joyful celebration and wonder crumbles to be subsumed by a much darker brush of brutal intensity highlighting the storm of narcissism currently igniting the cultural horizon (which you can see reflected on the video). And therein lies the beauty of Afterlife’s immersive divergence, juxtaposing the elements to confound expectation. I can almost hear the echo of Hendrix or Jimmy Page coming into to play in amongst the breakdown of what is holy to reveal the spectre of Narcissus as the song plays outside of itself powerfully, without compromise. Not that this is about past reference or mixing up genres in any way – who would dare cofound the division of genre labelling after all – but more about exploring sound in enriching, life-affirming ways.
Following in rapid succession from the release of the original version of Daniel Bell and Thomas Melchior’s collaborative Lost In Time comes this superlative edit by Traumer. An excess of words trip readily off the tongue to describe the atmospheres conjured up by this retelling of events but despite the rugged rhythm section there is a warm undercurrent lapping at the edges, drawing you into its ever evolving bliss as the word time locates its breath.
Sometimes it feels like we have never left the 80’s, or even escaped the 90’s for that matter. Being tied to history because it might seem safer or more familiar is a better place to live out life instead of processing the fraught airwaves of current reality. Maybe the decade did actually in fact begin and almost end via (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang, although give me Gina X Performance – No GDM anytime, or Yello – Bostich all the time.
Following on from the first instalment, Musik Music Musique 2.0 now delves into the full flavour of 1981 charting the radical aftermath of Punk with this selection of readymade electronic pop, which quite rightly also touches its various edges, while capturing the essence of what defined the year. So ok, some of this sounds wonderfully/ dreadfully dated as seminal moments and memories get relived across the movement of Fashion and Chris And Cosey’s sizzling – This Is Me as if electricity had just been discovered pointing fast-forward into the future. It’s likewise recommended that besides the inclusion of Spandau and Duran Duran if you’re looking for something more meaningful you also try the tense delights contained within the third CD such as from Naked Lunch, AK-47 and Zeus Cowboy’s low-slung – On The Beach. However, if you’re after the breeze of lighter melodies there are plenty of those available too from all the big hitters. Finally the sleeve notes written by the most knowledgeable Mat Smith from Electronic Sound Magazine detail the relish, covered in depth to enhance the aural experience.
Ambient feels like too small a word to describe this awe-inspiring trip through a prism of reverberating echoes. Perhaps the meaning is more appropriately located somewhere in-between the phrases Classical and Electronic to serve the music produced with some evident justice. My only complaint though is that the immersive overlap of warmth doesn’t carry on a number of times longer, for it’s an avenue you will want to find yourself at home in.
Centred on a succession of terse piano notes that are underpinned by an overpowering humming which whirs away almost unnervingly in the background, as synthesised stabs come and go, is one possible way to elicit meaning from words rather than listening. More so is just the simple, purposeful title itself Sitting At The Piano which once again confirms the power of music to generate, connect with and then to explore the impossible dream.
On a final note this week comes a highly recommended album from Christine Ott, Mathieu Gabry and Ophir Levy collectively known as Theodore Wild Ride who have produced a magical blend of classical and electronic reference points linking each avenue form A-Z. At times this is haunting and melancholic at others soaring and heavenly. Listening, or rather experiencing, the music contained within is thrilling because you don’t know which twist or turn is going to occur next, also because the influences which appear apparent are diverse like the sound of world turning. In the end it’s all down the reverberation accompanying the space that expands around the stringed instruments as they play, complimented by an evocative use of recording process capturing each sound and washing it with emotion. Again and as with all important sequences of music this is about the sum of its parts, rather than picking out one particular track. This is music that speaks to you in reverential tones.
House Music that shines. Galen Abbott’s excellent future thinking dive into electrifying rhythms is little short of explosive. Love the way the arrangement feels like its changing direction by the introduction of different sounds layering up powerfully as the drums punch above their weight, coupled with cool chords and soaring effects on the apt Climatic Tendency. Next, Fear From Your Mind blends old school Chicago Acid together with wild abandon which gets contrasted beautifully by the warmth of deeper pads. The remix comes from Kim Ann Foxman no less who injects a rougher, tougher edge into the affair via heavy-duty bass alongside a fiery tempo offsetting it all this time with a rush of gated keys and trippy voices. The fast-forward drive of Instrumental Sounds ends with a further nod to the 80’s with classic drum machines intertwined with loopy basslines plus a general funky sass to complete this brilliant release.
Detroit Gets Physical is almost the beginning and the end of this review because the title says it all. Touching upon many different bases this selection of readymade gems sees the music flit excitingly between the soulful to the downright dangerous. Opening with DJ One Five’s own superb – Love on Dexter Ave the numbers include tracks from Laurent Chanal – Carbon (Vince Watson’s breath-taking Reshape Part 1+2) through to the delicious looped intensity of Gino – Dam I Wrong. Plus with excursions from the likes of Roland Leesker/ Scan7, GPU Panic and Biz it’s hard to beat the consistently high grade on offer.
Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Sean. Let’s start with the release of your debut solo album: Out Moving Windows. Tell us about the meaning behind the title?
Thanks for having me!
One of my favorite occasions for listening to music is during a commute. Whether it be by train, plane or car, headphones on, looking out the window, giving the music your full attention and watching the world go by.
There’s a particular contemplative sentiment that goes with that experience, and I guess that’s what I was trying to tap into with this release.
The album plays beautifully and is very rich in depth and emotion. How long did it take to compose and produceits completed release? Are you ever left feeling like you have rushed something for a deadline or do you always give time the space needed?
These tracks were made between late November 2020 and March 2021, I had been making a lot of music within that period of time, and these tracks felt like they worked best together for this release. There was no deadline for these fortunately!
Can you talk us through how you produced one of the tracks from the album? Including any favourite software/ hardware you like to use?
The first track on the release, entitled Splash, was composed around a collaboration with trumpet player Fernando Ferrarone. I first made the groove by recording percussion and claps in my studio; it has a slightly different feel to it because it’s in a 6/8 time signature. I then started layering on the pads which all come from a synth I’ve been enjoying recently, the Ensoniq TS-10.
At that point, I had Fernando come into the studio and we jammed over it for a couple of hours and recorded a bunch of takes. I then took best of the recordings and continued to layer on more elements and arranged the structure to be tight.
The music has an ambience drifting throughout. Where does inspiration for creating music come from: hearing other music, or something you have read, or an unrelated sound from the world outside?
I draw a lot of inspiration from other music, across many genres and styles, but I think the ambience comes from a desire to make music that is less dance floor oriented. I wouldn’t say unrelated sounds influence my music, but I definitely aim for particular emotions.
Can you tell us about some of the other musicians who have played on the album? And where some of the field recordings where recorded?
Oliver Paterson (plays guitar on Thank you For Everything), is an amazing musician I’ve known and played with for more than 10 years. He has made a few appearances on Analogue Attic with Alex and myself. He’s known for his beautifully melodic guitar lines which are perfectly on show here.
Kalia Vandever is a trombone player who regularly plays in jazz bands across New York. I first heard her playing an ambient solo trombone set in Brooklyn using a microphone a loop pedal. She has a really distinct energy in everything she plays, and everything sounds so deliberate and meaningful. I was very lucky to have her play with me on Triplet Falls.
Fernando Ferrarone is a monster of a trumpet player who regularly plays in jazz bands in New York, particularly salsa bands, where he brings the party. He deserves 97% of the credit for the first track on Out Moving Windows for the beautiful lines he plays.
Most of the field recordings in this are from a huge folder on my computer of the hours and hours of recordings I’ve taken over the years. Most of these were from improperly labelled takes that I haven’t been able to identify, most likely in country towns in Australia as well as some nature clips. There are also pieces from my apartment in Brooklyn and a recent trip to Mexico.
You cofounded the label Analogue Attic. How would you describe the process of running a record label in the digital age in terms of generating income (streaming), the importance of PR, the place of social media etc?
There are more outlets for people to engage with music now than there were when we first started Analogue Attic, and people’s listening habits will continue to change over time. We think it’s really important for people to be able to access our music wherever they want to listen to it, whether that be on Bandcamp, through streaming platforms or on vinyl. We have some great partners that make that possible for us. Some labels create a vibe by only releasing music on vinyl or tape, or boycotting streaming platforms. That can be cool as well, but we’ve always preferred to make it as easy as possible for those who want to listen to our music.
Generating revenue from music sales has never been easy for anyone, but having your music out in the world is the best way to get booked for shows, and that will always be the most straightforward path to income for musicians/DJs.
The spirit of independence runs strongly in what you do. Where did that inspiration come from? And how would you describe the more business end of club culture in terms of creativity at the moment?
I guess I have a very different background to most artists releasing music within similar circles; I went to jazz school and played in bands well before I got into electronic music. I very rarely DJ and so I don’t spend much time thinking about where my music can fit in a mix or what time of the night it will work and that sort of thing. I don’t care too much about being unique from other artists, but I do think it’s important to draw on your own influences.
What is your favourite instrument? Do you own one?
I have a beautiful Yamaha Clavinova digital piano in my New York apartment, my friends chipped in to get it for me for my birthday recently, so it has that nice sentimental value to it as well. I also have an upright Carnegie and sons and a different digital Yamaha back in Melbourne.
In terms of influences who has been the most important both within music from outside of it (writers, painters, poets etc)?
There are way too many artists to put my finger on just one, but I’ve been thinking about Keith Jarrett a lot recently (largely because arthritis has taken over and he can’t play the piano anymore, which is sad). He’s one of my biggest inspirations, I think he’s one of the best musicians ever because of his command of melody and harmony as well as his technical ability.
And finally. Do you think music culture will reshape in any way after Covid-19? Have you formed any plans for 2022?
Last year I noticed a lot of producers releasing music that was abnormally ambient for them. I think there were loads of artists who knew their music wouldn’t be played to dance floors and thought differently about what they wanted to put into the world as a result. I don’t know if that’s still happening in a noticeable way, but I think it’s exciting when electronic artists who usually DJ think beyond the dance floors.
Goeran Meyer’s highly charged new production positively fizzes with an amalgamation of electrical impulses reaching towards a deeper introspection. The sounds are considered, thought provoking as if time has been furiously spent upon the construction of each detail resulting in music with a definite meaning. Place Your Tents captures sonic atmosphere wonderfully flying freely through the airwaves of emotion teasing out each edge in turn. The punchier Facing The Temple follows feeling lighter in contrast though no less impactful.