While composing haunting, elegiac concept albums of lost utopias and working for TV and film the Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson was thinking about a project on an even larger scale since 2010 - a multimedia work that would include his own visual concept, direction & music.
:Based on the cult science fiction novel by Olaf Stapledon, Jóhann Jóhannsson's opus magnum Last and First Men artfully combines music, film and narration from Tilda Swinton, sitting somewhere between fiction and documentary to form a poetic meditation on memory and loss.
At the time of Jóhannsson’s death in 2018 he was still working on Last and First Men, revising it considerably from the version that premiered at the MIF, helped by Berlin-based composer and sound artist Yair Elazar Glotman who finished the score subsequently. The recording features Jóhannsson’s long-term musical collaborators like Hildur Guðnadóttir (vocals, cello, percussion), members of Theatre of Voices etc."
Nairobi, Kenya’s KMRU debuts on Mego with a suite of serene ambient scenes after emerging with Four Tet-like electronica releases in 2019 and recently starring on ‘Alternate African Reality - Electronic, Electroacoustic And Experimental Music From Africa And The Diaspora’
Known as Joseph Kamaru to his pals, KMRU was hailed by RA as one of ’15 East African Artists You Need To Hear’ in 2018 and is a regular performer at Nyege Nyege Festival in Uganda, beside performing at CTM and Gamma Festival. For his Mego release ‘Peel’ it appears he’s been listening to label hero Fennesz, the Austrian experimental guitarist, or Will Long aka Celer, with whom his tracks share a certain, longing melancholy in their long, sighing arrangements of glistening and creaking ambient pads and mournful post-rock/cienmatic elegance.
“The subtle calming atmosphere within Peel belies the compositional prowess as layers of delicate sounds wrap around each other creating a hybrid new form ambient musics both captivating through it’s textural depth and kaleidoscopic patterns. The track titles lend themselves to the themes and mood set within: Why are you here, Well, Solace, Klang, Insubstantial and the title track. This is a deep heartfelt journey with a new strong voice being expressed through the means of organically presented electronic ambient sounds, one which reveals further layers on repeat listens.”
The Bit is the second recorded collaboration between Aidan Baker (Nadja / Hypnodrone Ensemble), Simon Goff (Jóhann Johannsson / Hildur Gudnadottir) and Thor Harris (Swans, Shearwater, Thor & Friends).
"Following on from 2017’s Noplace album, The Bit treads a similar path in terms of the recording process as the trio spent a day improvising at Voxton Studios in Berlin whilst on a European tour. The result was then edited and moulded into six hypnotic tracks that ebb and flow with beauty and ease.
The Bit finds the trio painting with a lighter touch than on its predecessor. Thor Harris’ motorik beats still underpin the music but the atmospherics take a more prominent role and there is a pure and cohesive path to be found throughout the record. Much like on Noplace, Baker’s guitar and Goff’s violin weave together beautifully, forming a deep bed of melody, ambience and reverb.
Given the trios credentials it’s not surprising they have created another immersive and stunning record."
Probingly bittersweet electro-acoustic investigations of online surveillance and security systems from Australia’s Jasmine Guffond, following excellent albums for Sonic Pieces with her Editions Mego debut.
Paranoid in tone and elusively spectral by nature, ‘Microphone Permission’ evokes its subject in a mix of quizzical ambient sound design and mutated techno pulses that furtively get under the listener’s skin. As one might hope from experiencing Jasmine’s acclaimed solo albums, ‘Yellow Bell’ (2015), ‘Traced’ (2017), and ‘Degradation Loops’ (2018), the sound of her new LP is also incredibly detailed and once again lures us into a hypnagogic state where her ideas about contemporary life’s liminal but ubiquitous aspects can better take hold.
"Coming from a background in composing for theatre, dance and site specific installation, Jasmine is well versed in transcribing complex ideas into sonic arrangements that reflect their subject. The material in ‘Microphone Permission’ stems from a range of these projects - from the sonification of Twitter meta data, to soundtracks for an extinct forest, and emulating the harmonic shifts of a hydroelectric dam - without referring to them directly, using them as research that feeds into her stark and brooding dystopian musical worldview.
Developed over the course of two years, ‘Microphone Permission’ takes a justifiably paranoid standpoint against the ubiquity of smart phone surveillance systems. Taking cues from the example of the Spanish football league accessing fans’ phones via apps, to see if they were watching illegally screened games, Guffond’s music has a slow creeping sensibility that emulates the now near ubiquitous psychic dread of being watched. Between the muffled voices and subtly piercing tones of ‘Forever Listening’, the warped Arpanet-like electro of ‘Dotcompound’, and the introspective descent from clammy ambient pop to jagged electronics in Jasmine’s concluding statement of ‘An Utterly Dark Spot’, she portrays an aspect of the world as hidden, subliminal as it is ubiquitous and invasive, making for one of the uncanniest, incisive computer music records of 2020 so far."
Pure, uncomplicated loveliness on this latest LP from bijou imprint Sonic Pieces and their pal F.S. Blumm. There was a time we’d find the easygoing breeziness of this one a little bit hard to bare, but right now it’s ticking a lot of boxes. Basically, if you wanna see the world in pastels and stop the clock on your anxieties for a minute, this one should do the trick.
Blumm is one of those characters that’s been around for what must be a good several decades by this point. Always on the peripheries, as part of Sack & Blumm with Harald Ziegler and as Bobby & Blumm with Ella Blixt, he’s had albums solo and as part of other groups on numerous labels like Staubgold, Tomblab, Morr, Plop - u get the picture, that school of homespun electronic-acoustic miniatures that was for a while kind of a big deal and which ultimately spawned loads of Japanophile labels like Erased Tapes in their early days.
Anyway, all of that is dated as fuck by this point, as would this album be - if it weren’t for a few twists that elevate proceedings into something more nuanced and believable. The windswept Paris-Texan vistas of aufgrund, for instance, or the sad lullaby strums on haltegriff - you’d have to have a heart of stone not to swoon a little bit.
The rest - it all sounds like the sort of music you get on CNN weather slides - and normally we’d leave it at that. Except that at this moment in time, 'In Sight' provides a purity of feeling we just can’t bring ourselves to argue with or resist. Add to that the typically gorgeous hand-sticthced textile packaging from Sonic Pieces and we’re back in Berlin in the early 2000’s, full of hope and open hearts.
Yeah, pure af this one.
Autonomic synth-pop by Donato Dozzy and Eva Geist, expanding on the retro-futurist allure of Dozzy’s Men With Secrets album with a full LP of needlepoint arps and laser-guided grooves landing somewhere between IDIB, dBridge, and Italian potpourri.
“Raster presents »Il Quadro di Troisi«, a project by Andrea Noce (Eva Geist) and Donato Scaramuzzi (Donato Dozzy). The record is a colorful ode of an Italian scented vision, overflowing of details and profound intensity. The contemporary world condition, the pandemic in Italy and around the world define »Il Quadro di Troisi« as a unique and right-on-time release.
This record is a enigmatic collaboration between the two Italian natives Andrea Noce and Donato Scaramuzzi. Andrea Noce takes lead on the vocals, with Donato Scaramuzzi carving the dreamlike soundscapes of the record. The record was born with a correspondence between the two artists about the late actor and director Massimo Troisi, and this exchange soon became an inspirational source of identification. Andrea Noce’s lyrics are sensitive and multi-faceted, they perfectly cling to the musical phrases and flow like a filmic monologue from the oeuvre of that very Troisi.
In a highly creative and confident manner, entire decades of national music history are comprehended and transformed into the here and now. The record takes its cue from the italo-disco, synth pop tradition corroborated by the contribution of artists such as the legendary Twilight Music co-founder, Paolo Micioni, as well as Stefano Di Trapani who wrote »L’ipotesi«. With »Il Quadro di Troisi«, Noce and Scaramuzzi prove their eclecticism, and passion for their home country.
»Il Quadro di Troisi« is a collaboration between Raster and the Milan-based festival Terraforma. With this release, the first with a purely Italian focus on the label, Raster celebrates its long standing relation with Italy and the Italian audience, encapsulated in the label's project ›Electric Campfire‹ held in Rome for ten years. Terraforma is an international experimental and sustainable music festival taking place since 2014 in the park of Villa Arconati, where Dozzy has been invited at every edition in different forms, DJing, live performing both in solo and with Voices from the Lake (together with Neel).”