A new Eluvium LP is always an event in my book but Shuffle Drone is an odd one : An off-year release after 2016 LP False Readings On and a very conceptual album : it’s made of 23 30-seconds tracks, meant to be played infinitely shuffled in a continuous unending flow (Except you pressing stop, of course :P). Consequently every track on the album is a small piece of track, a rapid variation that starts and finishes on a identical droning sound.
Shuffle Drones with its quirky album track name, is intended as a reflexion about the way music is often played in the digital age with infinite shuffling playlist on streaming service; and at first, It seems like it would be very hard to deliver on this idea but Matthew Cooper way of doing music is really the perfect fit for this kind of technical limitation. In his earlier work he made an habit of creating increasingly complex soundscapes by stacking layer upon layer of droning sound and muffled orchestral melodies. (A impressive process that i’ve have seen him reproduce flawlessly live in concert). Shuffle drone is just a riff on that formula : stacking, and then unstacking complex layer of music and doing it again, and again… It’s very much poetry in its ways of creating art inside strict constraints.
And it works ! Genuinely. On my first listen, i’ve pushed the shuffle button and clicked play and two and an half hours later i was still listening to the album not noticing a great deal of repetition and not knowing how many time any given track was played. It’s obviously a slow moving piece of droning ambient and it breaths at a very fixed pace with a very present background sound but so many unique variations in the mood and tone emerged from the different pairing of each tracks. the way you brain can’t stop interpreting them based on the one before make every variantion a different story. It’s music, emotion, very subtle direction in a simple design. Everything i love :)
In the end, concept album or not, Shuffle Drones is a great release by Eluvium. And even more so if you fell of the Eluvium wagon in the recent year, it definitely sounds like early, simple and great album like Copia. That’s very impressive.
On Opacity, Jason Van Wyk (a 27 years old composer from South Africa) have created a incredibly moving and balanced album: acoustic and electronic, compact and generous, finely crafted and genuine, sentimental and reserved. Its short tracks switch back and forth between majestic pads, a few gorgeous violin melodies, pretty synths, some deep dubstep bass and, of course, beautiful weighty piano. The minimal composition of Jason Van Wyk are confidently produced and feel instantly familiar;I Felt right at home from the first listen. The composition seems, at times, quiet, simple and lofty and the next minutes it sends you to deep space humming along some haunting artificial melody. It’s also an ambient release where nothing feel rushed but no idea overstay its welcome. Quite the accomplishment, really.
Opacity is published by ambient label Home Normal, a very good fit for the current sound of Jason Van Wyk (who started his career producing mostly Trance Music).Even though I have only listened to the LP a couple of times, it’s so soulful that I have no doubt that this could be (one of ?) my favorite release of 2017.
I forgot to post about it, but a few week ago, Björk announced her new album: Utopia. Out in November, this LP is announced as a more optimistic follow up to Vulnicura and will be moving away from the raw, post-breakup, nihilistic songs.
The Gate, The first single, is more dreamy than happy, though. It’s a very strong track and listening to it, one has to wonder : How the hell can Björk stays on top of her game so late in her career and sound musically more relevant and interesting than ever? There is many explanations : her musical genius, the dedication to each of her projects with little to no compromise, all the talented people she surround herself with (Utopia will be mainly produced by Arca, who produce 3 songs on Vulnicura) and of course, the fact that she comes from Iceland, the magical volcanic music island. Still, 25 years after Debut, no artist come close to the perfection of Bjork cohesive and yet diverse discography.
In The Gate, Björk voice is, as usual, haunting and powerful. The song have a complex and subtle minimal techno background with no beat and some glitchy synths; the whole things is a very satisfying listen.
She uses many of her usual goosebumps inducing voice tricks and her icelandic accent with the r’s rolling is very strong on this track (I’m not complaining, Björk accent rules).
Also the CGI in the video are completely nuts, so, enjoy the crazyness below! November cannot come soon enough.
Kiasmos is the collaboration between Ólafur Arnalds and Janus Rasmussen and seems to be the preferred way for the legendary Icelandic composer and pianist to add some sweet, sweet beats to his beautiful melancholic melodies. Their eponymous album was a excellent blend of modern classical ambient and minimal techno and the project is, obviously, a more djing and touring friendly project than Arnalds TV and movie, BAFTA winning, career.
As much as i love Arnalds scores and modern classical output, I’m very happy that Kiasmos it’s not a one off collaboration. The new EP : Blurred is a great continuation of their previous sound but also an affirmation of a Happier and somehow dance-ier side of the project. It’s out today on Erased Tapes and contains remix by Simon Green (Bonobo) and Martin Stimming.
Instrumental version of electronic music can sound very very wrong and cheesy. But this cover of Everything you do is a Balloon by Board of Canada is just incredible. A Real labour of love that made me realize that the original song is really not just pretty synths and dreamy samples. It’s really fascinating to see the raw melodies separated like that. They also manage to keep a lot of the weirdness and energy of the original song. Amazing job.
And if you’d like more instrumental Boards of Canada Cover : the classical band stargaze often cover BoC live. They sound really good and there are many videos on youtube This mix by ‘la blogotheque’ contains good recordings of two of their covers : EYDIAB (@ 13min 50s) and Nlogax / Turquoise Hexagon Sun @ (1h 36min). Go check that out !
After reading this 2015 pitchfork feature, I could not resist the temptation to find all these tracks on Apple Music and make a mixtape of Philip Sherburne selection. All of them were available on the platform, so here you are: Emotional Intelligence: A Guide to Melodic IDM on @AppleMusic I didn’t known all of them but this playlist contains a lot of tunes that I remember very fondly from Autechre, Plaid, Boards of Canada, Bola, etc. The melodic side of classic IDM was really my jam when I was younger: my gateway drug to all the good stuffs from either side of the 90s.
Three Years after their incredible first album, A Winged Victory for the Sullen was finally back in 2014 with Atomos, the score for a contemporary dance piece. And I must confess something: this album slip by me: I have listened to it one or two times and it disappeared in the background… no memories of it. To my disappointment, it did not feel special and I was not hooked on it like i was on the first one.
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Recently signed by n5MD. A very interesting track by an Italian/english duo. My kind of vocalist over my kind of glitchy music. Their Album Acht LP is out on n5md.