The Seas Trees See, Jimmy Tamborello’s tenth full-length release as Dntel, is an unassuming delight for complicated times.
While mostly known for his time with indie-pop supergroup The Postal Service, Tamborello has been a steady influence in electronic music for over 20 years. The first of two albums to be released this year, The Seas Trees See reveals a different side to Dntel. Moving away from the usual glitchy, IDM or even pop-based structures, this ambient work resembles something a lot more nuanced and refined.
Even if you know Tamborello’s back-catalogue, this release will surprise you (and will continue to do so after several listens). The reason may be less about the absence of beats and basslines on this album, and more to do with the feelings it instills. Maybe as a response to dehumanising, algorithm-based music recommendations, or maybe just a hipster marketing gimmick, a few years ago cassette, CDR and USB mixtapes started appearing in odd places. Wedged between seats on public transport, taped to a lamp post or perhaps stashed in the inside pocket of a charity shop jacket, the mystery of where these home-made releases came from and who made them added to their appeal. There is something personal and tangible about sharing music like this. It’s something you don’t get with big data crowdsourced playlists. The Seas Trees See is an album that feels like it’s been circulating this way for many years, the crackle and static evidence of its tape spools being lovingly rewound, over and over, by listener after listener.
The mood is set by opening track, ‘The Lilac and the Apple‘, an eerily affecting take on Californian folk-singer Kate Wolf‘s 1977 acapella recording. Drawing us into its abstract space, Tamborello’s production is both innovative, unsettling and yet beautiful. From this departure point we are briefly immersed in folding layers of texture and float gently on the sustaining synths of ‘The Seas‘, before the playful whirligig waves and frothy, bubbling undercurrents of ‘Whimsy‘ pull us further out. The experience is a bizarre, disorienting journey through high and low fidelity samples, distant synths and ASMR tickles that weave in an out of the near-field.
Elsewhere, Dntel is a lot more understated (perhaps sometimes a little too much). ‘The Man on the Mountain’ combines undulating tremello with a simple narrative to create a sense of wonder and discovery. Being one of the few moments of clarity on the album, the story here of a hiker who loses their way on a mountain probably has significance, but we are too quickly whipped up by the next track to take it all in. The mellow, joyous anti-rhythms of ‘Back Home‘ and its neighbour ‘What I Made‘ recall Boards Of Canada or Deru at their most meditative and serene. Next, in a darker turn, the wandering piano of ‘Movie Tears‘ is set against a fibrous brittle background of breathy samples, creating a feeling of solitude and loss.
The contiguity of the first half of The Seas Trees See gives way to slightly jarring juxtapositions in the second. For example, where the introspective lilt of ‘Fall in Love‘ is cut up by ‘Yoga App‘, with its self-consuming side-chained samples, it feels like we are listening to a random track selection. Though slightly over-long, ‘After All‘ is keenly mixed and stacked with organic sounds and field recordings. Judging by my dog’s baffled reaction, the tonal shifts here are so high and so deep that there’s stuff happening we probably can’t hear. Finally, closing track ‘Hard Weather‘ demands attention with earnest synth stabs and those rain-like pads beloved of sci-fi soundtracks. Heralded by androgynous vocal calls and what sounds like the clatter of Thai crash cymbal and Klawng Yao drum, Dntel leaves us in the same, enigmatic mental space as the beginning.
Overall, the album radiates the weird charisma of a lost-and-found object. Electronic music can be soulless, clinical and repetitive, but not Dntel. I urge you to spend some time with this album (with a good pair of headphones) and lose yourself among Tamborello’s careful constructions, searching for their meaning.
The final album by the duo of Valentina Magaletti and the late Tom Relleen deftly sums up what made their live shows so thrilling, finds Antonio Poscic
Tomaga, the improv rock duo of Valentina Magaletti and Tom Relleen, had felt like home for the London-based musicians from its inception in 2013 and right until Relleen’s passing in 2020. Outside of Tomaga, multi-instrumentalist Relleen was best known as half of The Oscillation, the fuzzed out psych rock project with Demian Castellanos, and as founder of the Phonica Records label. Magaletti branched out even further playing drums and percussion with quirky pop outfit Vanishing Twin, performing with the London Improvisers Orchestra, and collaborating with a number of avant-music luminaries. But it was Tomaga where their musical personalities came fully into being.
Starting with 2014’s debut Futura Grotesk, the band’s prolific discography superficially appeared to be an extension of Silver Apples’s variety of psych rock. In reality, they played with a freer style, confidently incorporating downtempo electronics, jazzy inflections, and post-rock crescendos in their spontaneous compositions. By adding a hint of mystery, the music projected a secret epistemology of the world through boundless motorik explorations and subliminal psychedelia. Self-evident, but somehow endlessly elusive. Their themes danced a similar dance, collecting fragments of everyday life, philosophy, and inner experiences into intimate narratives.
When Magaletti’s oblong tank drum cycles emerge from the dark to form a tuneful skeleton for ‘Idioma’, the opening cut of the duo’s final release, it’s a sound at once known and unknowable. Evolved from 2016’s The Shape of the Dance, yet embedded with a deeper meaning in light of Relleen's passing. On Intimate Immensity, the breathless reverberations of his Buchla synthesizer are just that bit more incisive than before as they saturate the sound space and grow emotional branches around echoing polyrhythms. Bass textures bubble up and wash over lurking, shy noises with newly discovered weight. An electronic pulse whistles for the first and last time.
Shehnai maestro Bismillah Khan’s canon is explored in Meeting Rivers’ latest mix – the eighth instalment in Kam Bhogal and Sach Dhanjal’s series.
“Episode eight of our artist profile series delves into the work of Shehnai maestro Bismillah Khan, as he guides us through his world of mysticism and sound. In his lifetime, he raised the status of the Shehnai from a folk instrument to one celebrated on the classical stage. His name has been synonymous with the instrument ever since.
In many of his interviews, Khan stressed the oneness of sound against the backdrop India’s faith and class divisions. He, a devout Shia Muslim, upheld his faith whilst living in the Ancient city of Varanasi – one of the holiest cities for Hindu devotees. Finding in this no sense of conflict, he came to be seen as an example of the successful, progressive culture that evolved out of the Hindu-Muslim encounter in India.
Bismillah Khan describes to us his talaash (search) for that indescribable quality in sound as a parallel outcome of a life in pursuit of purity, detached from falsities and deceit. In this mix, we join him as he takes us on this journey of the seven surs (notes).”
Our profile features recordings of Ragas Bhairavi, Malkauns, Yaman Kalyan, Pilu, Bhairav, and Jaunpuri along with rare duets with artists such as Dr. N. Rajam, Girija Devi, Vilayat Khan and others; mixed and produced by Sach Dhanjal and Kam Bhogal, with audio restoration and mastering by Jazz Bhandal.
JOAO LOBO - Simorgh [LP](Les Albums Claus BEL)
TREPPENWITZ - Sister In Kith [LP](Discus UK)
Two different modern takes on Free Jazz from a pair of very adventurous artists. Joao Lobo is phenomenal as a drummer. His blistering waves on the kit become a wash on these five songs. Most notably is the lengthy but well-arranged "71-72" which bears the most thematic parts and biggest change on the entire album. As a trio with brother Norberto and bassist Soet Kempeneer, Joao Lobo leads them through furious portions ("Cumulonimbo") like a Seventies pre-Fusion band that is wild about Free Jazz.
Leeds' trio Treppenwitz takes a more Sixties Jazz approach to their Free Jazz. On "Sister In Kith," their synergy is undeniable. Playing together live and being recorded really raises their confidence in adding swing-like changes ("brimful") and quiet passages (the Ornette Coleman-meets-Bad Plus beauty "brave to swim in this weather.") As a group, "Sister In Kith" has a wonderful Charles Mingus-plays-Eric Dolphy quality to it. Tom Riviere's bass lines are elegant and give the tracks a punch. Steve Hanley's drums are never busy, but even in subtlety finding new inner rhythms to summon. Finally, Matthew Aplin's inventive piano lines echo Monk and Cecil Taylor. "Sound Logic/Sound Magic" has some awesome doubled lines from him where his dip into different harmonies colors the mood but never just changes it. Treppenwitz's explorations of sound and interplay are some of the best you will hear in 2021.
Here we have another wonderful release by Beatriz Ferreyra, a live album recorded in Brussels in 2018 but only recently released. There are three extended pieces presented, all of them being varied in style and intent. The album has a very “live” sound which gives it a nice ambience that you don’t often hear in Acousmatic recordings. The only downside (and it’s minor) is, I found myself adjusting the volume level on the first piece down a little to compensate for the loudness of the electronic organ, that at times was a bit overpowering.
The album starts off with Siesta Blanca (1972) which is In Memoriam Astor Piazzolla. After about a 15 second recording of one of Piazzolla’s Tangos as introduction, the piece abruptly morphs into an extended atmospheric organ workout. Ghosts of Piazzolla’s music randomly materialize, but only for a few seconds before they are abstracted away by Ferreyra’s processing. At times, the organ is used to create long-form drones only to deconstruct into short bursts creating a playful dialog with the occasional sample of Tango music (which is also processed to barely recognizable levels). I didn’t take to this piece immediately but after 2 or 3 listens, it really started to click for me. Strangely enough it has a sort of 1970’s Krautrock vibe and at times I felt it was channeling early Ash Ra Temple or Amon Düül II. I haven’t heard this side of Ferreyra’s music before and it was a refreshing change.
The second piece L’Autre … ou le chant des marécages (1987) is described by Ferreyra as such: “I was deeply impressed with Blaise Cendrars’s paradoxical personality, his terrifying Double which strips itself with a naked extreme and sadistic cruelty in his book Moravagine, It was impossible for me not to record the depth of my feelings in a brutal and wild vocal composition.” I haven’t read this book personally, but from what little I know of it Ferreyra seems to have succeeded in giving us an accurate aural document of the depravities contained within. She has worked with the human voice quite a bit throughout her career and I’ve greatly enjoyed the pieces that I’ve heard…this piece is certainly no exception to that string of successes. There seems to be less processing in this work, but that is counteracted by the actual voices stretching to their natural limits. You’ll hear shouts, screams, wails, what sounds like speaking in tongues and general vocal histrionics all woven together to form a very disturbing sound entity. When she does layer in the audio processing over this backdrop, it becomes a uniquely strange thing indeed…and yes, it’s quite scary!
The final piece, L’autre rive (2007) is the longest clocking in at almost 17 minutes…and it’s 17 minutes of sonic excellence. This work was inspired by the Bardo Todol (the Tibetan Book of Death) and was composed for percussion and electroacoustic sounds. (I should say that the previous piece, and this one sound fantastic at loud volumes.) On L’autre rive we are treated to a complex array of various percussive objects and instruments some being electronically manipulated while others are not. As the piece progresses, it begins to manifest itself in many different ways, culminating finally into a shifting organic mass of sound. It’s one of the most exotic, detailed things I’ve heard within the Acousmatic/electroacoustic space… and provides a very fitting tour de force to end the album.
live ateliers claus gets a huge thumbs up from me! I’m anxiously awaiting her split release with Natasha Barrett that drops in a couple days and I’m quite sure I’ll have some words on that one too. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to check this one out.
Senyawa - Alkisah REMIXED - in stock ! Remixes are delivered by Sugai Ken, Celine Gillain, Sagat, Tolouse Low Trax, Dntel , Front de Cadeaux
After co-founding the influential Sheffield industrial band Cabaret Voltaire in the 1970s, Chris Watson turned to field recording. He has had an illustrious career as a sound recordist with both solo work and commissions for organizations like National Geographic and the BBC Natural History Unit. His solo albums for Touch include Weather Report (2003) and El Tren Fantasma(2011), both classics in their genre.
For the BBC, Watson has recorded sound for many nature documentaries hosted by David Attenborough, including The Life of Birds (1998) and Frozen Planet (2012). He has also created sound installations for galleries across the world. He recently contributed the piece “Unlocked” to Unsound Festival’s Intermission compilation. On March 4th, 2021, Matthew Blackwell met with Chris Watson over Skype to discuss haunted landscapes, dangerous animal encounters, and whether the Atlantic and Pacific oceans sound different from one another.
Matthew Blackwell: Where are you located now? In Northumberland?
Chris Watson: Yeah, in the northeast of England. Just north, in the suburbs really, of Newcastle. But I’ve been away actually, on a shoot these past few days.
What is Northumberland like, for someone who hasn’t been there? I’ve been to England, but only London.
It’s far better than anywhere in London. It’s the northeast of England, so it’s a coastal county, a very ancient county. It’s got a really remarkable coastline which is quite industrial at the southern end, near the River Tyne, near the city, but as you go further north it gets wilder, rather more remote. Yeah, it’s great. Ends up at Lindisfarne and then inland, there’s a large forest area, one of the largest planted forests in Europe, Kielder Forest, where I do a lot of recording. And then there’s a lot of open hill land, the Cheviot Hills, which have a really old history as well.
In the 17th century, this area was really occupied by clansmen, by families that didn’t think of themselves as either Scottish or English because Northumberland borders Scotland. And that really didn’t mean much to them because they were associated in family groups. Collectively, they were known as the Border Reivers. It was really quite a violent place because these people would go around robbing other farms and properties and stealing cattle. And they made their own laws—they didn’t bother with laws that were made in London or Scotland. They sort of lived by the sword and that’s evident still in some of the place names where I go recording. There’s places like Hangman’s Rock and Murder Cleugh and Bloody Bush. If you were visited by the Border Reivers, you were “bereaved,” which is where the term comes from, to give you some idea of what they would do.
So it’s great, I love it! (laughter). It’s relatively unpopulated as well, so you can get away from people and places quite easily.
You recorded there for a piece a few years ago called Haunted Spaces, is that correct?
Yes, the Soniccouture piece. Well, that included recordings from all around the world, actually, but I did some special recordings in Northumberland. And I’m doing so again, actually, for another edition to that series.
Oh really? Excellent.
It may be out later this year or early next year, I’m not sure. But yes, I’ve been working with James [Thompson] on that. I really like doing those, actually. It’s a really interesting way of applying some of my recordings. And I use that Haunted Spaces [sound library] myself, I really like it.
Could you explain a bit about the concept of a “haunted space” that the project is based on?
The title really comes from haunted spaces, from a long time ago—and this covers some of what I’ve just described, actually. In the early 1980s, when I first moved up here to Northumberland, I was reading some of the books of Thomas Lethbridge. Thomas Lethbridge was the director of the Museum of Antiquities in Cambridge in the 1930s. He was an academic, but was also a historian, archeologist, and explorer, and he spent a lot of his time on location investigating places, and as far as I was aware he was the first person to use the technique of dowsing over maps to find places. Something which just blew my mind when I was reading this in the 1980s, that you could dowse with a map of a place and then go and find what you were looking for in reality. He wrote very eloquently and interestingly about places that he thought were inhabited by a sense and spirit of place and he tried to investigate as to why that was and what that embodied.
To put it very simply to start with, in our lives we can all go into houses or buildings and quite often, if people are house-hunting or looking for a new apartment, you can walk into somewhere and you get a feeling of good or bad. People quite often say, “that house, that room, that space has an atmosphere.” Thomas Lethbridge was interested in investigating that. And when I moved up here, I started looking at the maps of Northumberland to find places to record. And I found these places on the map in remote parts of Northumberland which were called Hangman’s Rock, Murder Cleugh, Bloody Bush. I went up there, and now there’s a planted forest in many of those areas because just after the First World War there was a national timber shortage. The forestry commission planted forest on what was moorland and upland and the remote valleys of the Cheviot Hills. But the place names on the old maps and on the ordnance survey maps still held the history of what had happened there and why these places had been named so. So I went up there to see if I could retrieve something, draw something out of that landscape even though it had been transformed, which drew upon that history, which again was something that Lethbridge believed, that he discovered.
Hanne Lippard is a UK-born, Berlin-based poet, writer, and visual artist whose works primarily deals with the production and perception of language. Lippard has had exhibitions and performances across Europe throughout the past decade, but released her debut album Work last year on Collapsing Market. Last month she released her second audio document, PigeonPostParis via Boomkat Editions, which is a whimsical travelogue that showcases Lippard’s astute ability to draw parallels between ostensibly disparate ideas through text. Joshua Minsoo Kim talked with Hanne Lippard on March 20th, 2021 to discuss her two albums, handwritten letters, the differences between Berlin and Paris, and more.
Joshua Minsoo Kim: Hello!
Hanne Lippard: Hello, how are you?
I’m good, how are you?
I just came back from Brussels. I have a year-long show in a place called MuHKA, which is a contemporary art museum in Antwerp. It’s been a lot of work; that’s the only thing I’ve done so far this year (laughter). But that’s because it’s a three-part show and it’s changing every third month so there’s a lot of planning and it will go on until February of next year. There are a lot of things happening in between but yes, it’s a bit unconventional to be committing to a show for a whole year. It was great, but I’m a bit tired today (laughs).
I’m sure! What does the show entail?
It’s something that’s a pilot project—it’s the first time they’re doing something called a “Superhost,” which is a bit of a funny title. The Superhost is the artist and [MuHKA] will develop a relationship with the artist through a whole year instead of having this one single solo show. They want to develop something together with an artist every year, digging a bit deeper into the artist’s practice. That means I’ll also be involved in discursive programs and an online radio show.
We’re gonna include performances and we’ve decided that these shows will be a retrospective showing of my work. I’ve been active for ten years but it’s a bit early to look back (laughter) but it’s interesting because you realize that you do have a lot of work when seeing it all in one room instead of in a PDF, y’know?
It’s a challenge to show things parallel to each other because in this show we have two sound pieces—sound upon sound usually doesn’t work. One is a spoken piece and the other is more of a sound sculpture. There are two sound sources in the same space—it’s interesting to see how that can work. That’s basically the concept behind the show.
Since it’s the first they’re trying this [Superhost program] out, things were not really thought-out sometimes. I had to be a part of the decision making. It’s been intense. I’m being polite there (soft laughter) but it’s alright now. I’m back here and have a bit of a break. In April I’m gonna concentrate on a bunch of other things.
Well, hopefully you can have some rest between now and April.
I’m taking Monday off, which is a bit crazy (laughter). These days, Monday is the new Sunday, or… who knows.
Are you the sort of person who feels the need to constantly be working on something?
It’s interesting, this idea of what “constantly working” is, especially if you work as a poet, or whatever I call myself. In the last years I’ve come more to terms with the fact that working is also thinking, which seems so abstract. It’s not the capitalist model, let’s say, of working. Or the Calvinist idea of working. I do need a lot of time by myself—time really by myself as a single individual.
I think the last year has made me realize that much more because before I would work a lot in a sense that I’m always performing or doing a show. A lot of artists do use their body in one way or another, but when I perform I use my voice, and I find that I’m more exposed than someone who does painting, for instance—they can hide more easily during their opening. To do performance is often very exhausting; even if it’s only 30 minutes, you tend to be quite dead afterwards.
I try to be more realistic [now]. When you put things into a calendar, having several hours between something seems like loads of time but when you’re actually in the physical body of that, you do need more time. I think the last year really proved that because there was more time, but I didn’t travel. I used to travel and have like three or four flights a week, but this time I had one flight and I was really dead the whole day. It was like, “What did I do when I had three or four flights a week?” It was nuts. I guess everyone has that pressure. Do you freelance?
I’m a high school science teacher and I do all this music journalism on the side for fun.
So you have the full-time job, or at least a fixed job, and then the freelancing. That’s pretty intense. If you only sort of freelance you have this guilt, almost, if you don’t work, but I guess you don’t even have that (laughs).
Oh, I feel like I have that to some extent. I always feel the need to be working on something. It’s an interesting thing… I’ve thought about it a lot this past year. I’m 28, which is not very old, but I feel like I’m at this point where I’ve done things in my life where I’d be okay—at least theoretically—if I were to die. It’s like, okay, I did something with my life. I sort of view everything moving forward as a bonus, but I also have this mindset where I want to make the most of my time. There’s a pressure, but there’s not this pressure of, “I need to do this or my life would have been useless.” Like, last year I did around 60 interviews.
And that was when you were working as a teacher full-time? So you’re spending your spare time doing this.
Yeah. I love talking with people, so that makes it easy. I feel like I have two modes: I either do things constantly, or I don’t do anything at all, and the latter can only be so fun for so long.
I guess right now, since we’re not really meeting people much in real life apart from real close friends, interviewing people might be a nice way to feel like you’re not completely cut off from the social sphere, no? It’s like you’re at a bar and meeting people at a bar you don’t know, in that sense.
Yeah, exactly. I wanted to ask you, when was the last time you wrote a handwritten letter to someone?
Oh, wow. That’s an interesting topic because my mom writes me a handwritten letter every month. It’s been less in the past years, but I never really reply with anything handwritten, I would always reply with email. And that’s like a letter, not a note, right? Like in an envelope.