The completing piece of R.Cleveland Aaron’s journey into the jigsaw of sound doesn’t feel like a conclusion. More like an old friend departing to find something else to do. I will miss these oddly tempting escapes into unknown territory as you never know who, what or where is going to happen or occur next in the process. Perhaps the dissolving tones of The Promise of Endless Possibilities says it all? Or maybe the caustic intention of It’s Perfect Here clashes more with a sense of acceptability. Or then again maybe it’s the breathless whisper suggested within the hidden drumming of Disconnect – Connect – Disconnect that hints towards answers? Either way the brilliant uplifting, reassurance of Speriamo further contrasts expectation. At this point in proceedings I know as little or as much as you do. Except to say that perhaps all along the whir of electrical impulse fuelling all of this has as much to do with bearing witness to urban decay as it does celebrating the architecture of being. Whatever next?
Long been an admirer of this artists eloquently powerful use of language to convey his many meanings. Here We Are feels more than that though as Bruce Loko’s rich, classically enhanced elements fuse together to create an uplifting, wonderful piece of music that stands out in its own class. Chiming, shimmering keys wash across the breadth of stereo as if Robert Fripp’s magical chemistry had a hand in it, leaving the voice to permeate the sounds in as always thoughtful ways, until the crunch of extra percussion hits perfectly at mid-point. An Instrumental follows should you choose, while the remix by Nutty Nys adds vocoder into the blend plus the beautiful bounce of classic chords providing a most wonderful alternative.
Perhaps you can take it leave it. I couldn’t because as time passes by the less I care about getting stuck by formula, expectation, or certainly what fits in where given the almost absurd amount of musical genres you are supposed to experience nowadays. I’m interested in Artists because they create Art, but not beholden to them. The primary thing has always been the sounds themselves and how/ what they communicate to you. Sarah Neufeld’s album is a golden reflection of all of the above being self-defining as well as intensely emotional soaring to heights, diving for pearls. Whether that’s contained within the haunting sadness accompanying Reflection, Stories and or the more challenging, concluding Detritus the free flowing stream of instrumentation and wash of voices is most rewarding. However, the tracks including drums don’t fit as well for me for some reason. I guess they pull thoughts in different directions, feeling somehow more traditionally Rock orientated, while not carving out quite the same golden niche such as Stories below…
Part of the thing with music is its discovery. Discovering the meaning of sounds that appeal to you at different times and places throughout your time here: happy/sad, forming old or new memory in the wake of its processing. In reflection, and what intrigues me most nowadays is the dislocation of music that doesn’t solely rely upon melody, or indeed traditional instrumentation to transcribe an emotional response – which at the very core is its purpose. However, the timeless will always remain so. The story of Seefeel is an intricate one and this compilation of their albums and forward-thinking ideas for both Warp and Rephlex between 1994-1996 retell it without a shadow of doubt. Additional notes and artwork are also included to enhance the experience as is unreleased material as a bonus. It’s the mood enhancing, grainy atmospheres that resonate across a lot of these pieces which appeal most for me, although of course other textures are explored from the darkly haunting tones of Monastic to unfolding serenity such as highlighted by Burned. Rupt & Flex is not so much a case of something for everyone but there is equally something wonderful to be discovered for someone, as the mystery of imagination and how it corresponds to the equation of noise is brilliantly illuminated here. The excellent Autechre remix of Spangle makes its presence felt too transporting time from then to now, capturing the eloquence of a future tomorrow while absorbing our most difficult recent past.
Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Daniel Inzani and Harriet Riley from Spindle Ensemble. Let’s begin with the name Spindle Ensemble and its meaning?
There are a few reasons actually… Wood is a theme, Spindles are wooden like (almost) all our instruments: piano, violin, cello, Celtic harp and marimba, and there’s a very beautiful tree with a distinctive bright pink fruit called a spindle tree. It’s also a reference to the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale, the princess pricks her finger on a spindle and it sends her into a long, long dream. I love those old magical and creepy stories, and want to create music which has an unspoken narrative so it seemed like a serendipitous name. (Daniel)
Your stunning second album: Inkling is your ﬁrst for Hidden Notes. Tell us about how your relationship with the label came about?
We played at the ﬁrst Hidden Notes festival in 2019 which we loved. There were so many fantastic acts and everyone running the festival was super engaged and passionate about the music – plus being in nearby Stroud, it was great to see such a wealth of experimental classical music so close to home. They decided to create a label and ours is the ﬁrst record to come out under Hidden Notes Records! (Harriet)
The music combines the traditional alongside a more radical, teasing of the senses. Is there a particular piece of music from childhood which set each of you on the path to the music you now create?
Certainly for me, the fantastic Ruth Underwood, who was percussionist for Frank Zappa in the 70s. She often had an array of massive percussion instruments around her: marimba, vibraphone, xylophone, bass drum, tubular bells etc. Plus she was often the only girl in the band – something I have related to a LOT in my career. We’ve got a fairly unusual ratio in Spindle! Check out St Alfonzo’s Pancake Breakfast by Frank Zappa. (Harriet)
Can you talk us through the process of how one of the tracks from the album was created and then produced? I was also curious to ask about the recording process itself, which microphones are best suited to each instrument and about any eﬀects etc you use?
I set up a location recording studio specifically for this album consisting of ribbon microphones, some handmade from Extinct Audio and some vintage refurbished ones from X-Audia. They have a very warm tone which suits our whole instrumentation but the real advantage is being able capture a 3D sound image of the space we’re performing in using a Blumlein array with a matched pair of BM9 ribbon mics. We record in concert halls and churches where the acoustics suit our music and set up around this pair as if it was an audience member positioned in the best seat in the house. This stereo image is the bulk of the final sound which is spacious and allows the listener to feel like they’re hearing us perform live in concert, even able to pick out the position of each instrument. (Daniel)
How would you say the atmosphere of living in Bristol has fed into the music you make? Which (pre-Covid) venues are your favourite to play at in the city?
We’ve had some fantastic support from venues with Spindle! I love playing in the incredible acoustic of St George’s, but also smaller venues like the Forge where there’s a really intimate vibe. (Harriet)
How would you describe the power that music has without words?
I think there’s that extra sense of subjectivity. I know it can be a diﬀerent experience for musicians and non-musicians, but I certainly hear a conversation happening. There’s voices and emotions and it’s like tuning into another language. It can be an incredible way to getting know someone by playing them, getting to know their insecurities and strengths and supporting each other within these. I think with great music you can hear these relationships play out. (Harriet)
Should music always be political in some shape or form, or purely about emotion?
Everything you do can be perceived as political. It’s political to make music about emotional and reject the ideas of suppressing your emotions which daily life often involves. Our music certainly doesn’t have catchy chorus’ about systemic change, though those can be great, but we have our own take on connecting to nature and ourselves and our music reﬂects that. Sometimes being completely abstract is like rejecting the whole system. (Harriet)
Outside of music which artists inspire each of you most (Painters, poets, writers etc)?
I absolutely adore visual art, speciﬁcally paintings. Georgia O’keeﬀe’s super enlarged ﬂowers, really detailed surrealism by Dali and impressionists like Degas would deﬁnitely be up there with my favourites. But I also love to support and buy local art – Bristol and Stroud have some amazing designers and artists and supporting their process and work is really inspiring in a totally abstracted way to music. I recently got a painting by Nettle Grellier which is incredible – check out her work! (Harriet)
(Music video/animation by Marie Lechevallier)
Your recent single, Caligo is elegantly accompanied by a video from Narna Hue which captures and then blurs memory in amongst the reﬂective arrangement. What can you tell us about the making of it and what it represents for you?
Narna Hue and I have collaborated on a lot of music videos now. Caligo combines two of the different approaches she used in previous videos: filming on super 8 and creating animations from scratching directly onto 16mm film. The colours and patterns are very visually satisfying and her editing is very musical, she has created a narrative that flows perfectly with the music. (Daniel)
And ﬁnally. The obvious question. What is each of you looking forward to most in 2021?
I’m looking forward to performing and connecting with people. It’s so hard when such a big part of your life like sharing music with audiences is taken away, it really makes you value your place in life. Releasing ‘Inkling’ will be a really emotional event coming out of this. Plus just meeting people for a casual drink and a hug! (Harriet)
Spindle Ensemble – Inkling – Hidden Notes Records is released May 27
Not only do the smouldering array of beats strike you in peculiar ways but the low-slung bass and contrast of uplifting keys all work their magic leaving space for APOTEK’s haunting, almost psychedelic vocals to drift hauntingly across the vision. This is the second single to be released from an excellent forthcoming album full of heady atmospheric promise, much as this is.
Release: May 13
Launched the previous year Black Light Smoke’s label Death Decay Magic now reassess history recalibrating its story via input from The Hacker, Cardopusher, Man 2.0, Adrian Marth plus a wealth of more. Thinking outside of the box should be a required attribute these days as this swirl of dangerously fizzy music powerfully testifies. There’s even a crystalline linage transporting you all the way back to the 1980’s of New Beat and Acid House that is simply too intoxicating to ignore, and I for one love that. I’m not going to waste time separating out any one of the back catalogue remixes here as each stands tall in its own right, fusing the forward-thinking nature of drum machines alongside the impact of defiant synthesisers, likewise even the power of human voice is added for sincere measure.
I was having one of those awkward days when moments didn’t add up to making much sense. The thought of listening to the twist of Modern Jazz did not seem like the answer or even a remotely helpful proposition given the circumstance. But of course, I did so anyway. Funny then that everything suddenly made sense connecting a mind-field of thoughts to the figurative frenzy of free flowing energy greeting me from Kohsuke Mine’s 1970 release. This latest version in the J Jazz Masterclass Series, curated by Tony Higgins and Mike Peden for BBE Music, testifies to the inherent timeless qualities contained within this abundance of music and I would urge you listen to its rolling, unfolding answers as each skilful player asks the next to respond in kind. Also contained is a 4500 word sleeve note and interview with Kohsuke Mine so all the detail required is here. Again there’s little point in pinpointing certain numbers as this eloquent album merits an entire listen to soak it all up in one listen. Revisiting again.
Release: April 30
Filled to the brim with imagination these three tracks enlighten the airwaves not only with a sense of possibility but also with an introspective yearning that proves just as rewarding. The title track engages via the ignition of tough rhythms while a swirl of sound effects fill in the blanks, not forgetting the suggestive message in the voice. Manhattan Research then supplies more bounce amid its choppy funkiness, while final number Chocolate City featuring Ale Castro combines punctuating synth lines together with probing, crisp drumming that seeks out alternatives care off its own vocal proposition.
Release: April 30
The mixture of palpable excitement and sheer happiness when you hear music as sublimely unique such as on Turbo Sequencer makes it all worthwhile. The title track itself is underpinned by a series of hot kick drums, a roll of toms alongside a fizzy whir of electricity the production also punches hard with stabbing basslines and yet remains resolutely funky. Next is the fundamentally brutal, The Sideral following with slamming beats undercutting a whirlwind of emotionally charged keys defiantly occupying the stomping ground between House and Techno. Then the perkier, more melodic infusion of synthesised melodies strike the balance perfectly on Magman pt2 feeling like a celebration that is wonderfully European, leaving the incendiary Acid of Invisible to complete this excellent release of sounds, ideas amid motion. Get excited.