lithosphere: a 2013 mix

April 19, 2014

Lithosphere: a 2013 mix by Close To 94 on Mixcloud

close to 94‘s annual mix for 2013 continues the shade-then-light formula established in previous entries, but with a strength and mass that suggests elemental, tectonic forces at work, broken only the emergence of organic life… Click on the Mixcloud player above to listen.

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0:00:00 / The Empty Set: “Ambika P3″ from the EP Material

An earth-shattering field recording of amplified sound taken in the Ambika P3 concrete bunker/art gallery in London.

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0:01:43 / The Haxan Cloak: “Excavation (Part 1)” from the album Excavation

More sinister atmospherics from magister sonus Bobby Krlic.

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0:04:43 / Boards Of Canada: “Come To Dust” from the album Tomorrow’s Harvest

A highlight from the Sandison brothers’ welcome return.

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0:08:21 / Oneohtrix Point Never: “He She” from the album R Plus Seven

A mystical interlude from Daniel Lopatin.

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0:09:46 / Prurient: “You Show Great Spirit” from the album Through The Window

A monumental slab of industrial techno that, as Pitchfork pithily puts it, presents “subtly damaged sheets of sound that are noxious, malignant, and hidden like carbon monoxide”.

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0:18:40 / Daniel Avery: “Free Floating” from the album Drone Logic

A strident combination of rhythm and bass, described by Andrew Weatherall as “gimmick-free machine-funk of the highest order”. Which it is.

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0:24:59 / Fuck Buttons: “Stalker” from the album Slow Focus

A mid-tempo companion to “You Show Great Spirit” (see above) – epic, unrelenting, self-assured, doesn’t give a Button.

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0:34:54 / Grails: “Invitation To Ruin” from the album Black Tar Prophecies Vols. 4, 5 & 6

Baroque metal, wrecked poetry, a tragic serenade - a perfect paradox.

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0:37:04 / Senking: “Capsize Recovery” from the album Capsize Recovery

The first of a trio of (inevitable) entries from the Raster-Noton family: Jens Massel delivers another slab of drum and bass, with the emphasis on the latter.

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0:42:48 / Kangding Ray: “Nuis Octury” from the single Tempered Inmid

David Letellier temporarily stepped away from the Raster-Noton label to record another collection of muscular, asymmetrical techno.

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0:47:52 / Diamond Version: “Turn On Tomorrow (Version)” from the single EP3

Raster-Noton label heads Alva Noto and Byetone’s run of high-quality precision electronics continued into 2013. An album is due in 2014.

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0:50:49 / Nils Frahm: “Hammers” from the album Spaces

A dextrous live performance of arpeggiated techno on a grand piano – that sounds good, right? It is.

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0:54:16 / Esmerine: “Lost River Blues I” from the album Dalmak

Montreal-based Esmerine were co-founded by Bruce Cawdron and cellist Rebecca Foon (cf. Saltland, featured in the good in 2013 compilation). Dalmak saw the collective absorb the music of Turkey, creating a mesmerising fusion of east and west.

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1:01:38 / Apparat: “Pv” from the album Krieg Und Frieden

Sascha Ring strikes again (he is also featured, in his collaboration with Modeselektor, on good in 2013), this time with a typically anthemic overture from his music for German theatre director Sebastian Hartmann’s production of Tolstoy’s War and Peace.

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1:04:51 / Greg Haines: “Habenero (Version)” from the album Where We Were

With Where We Were, British composer Haines perfected the blend of piano and electronics, as showcased on “Habenero”, both on the album and his performance of it at London’s Scala last April.

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1:11:23 / Lubomyr Melnyk: “A Warmer Place” from the album Corollaries

Melnyk’s trademark continuous flow of notes is moderated a touch on this restful, concluding piece. The soothing arpeggios remain, but are given new poignancy by the simple string accompaniment.

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1:19:22 / ends

 

See also:

good in 2013

April 19, 2014

Good in 2013 by Close To 94 on Mixcloud

Remember 2013? It seems such a long time ago now, but even late-April isn’t too late for this blog to update on the previous year’s music. Certainly not. Last year was actually another standout year, including the return of a few of the big beasts in music – David Bowie (featured in this compilation) not least among them.

Click on the Mixcloud player above to listen, and reminisce.

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0:00:00 / Daft Punk: “Get Lucky” from the album Random Access Memories

No comment required – the biggest track of the year by far (here’s the proof).

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0:06:03 / Poliça: “Chain My Name” from the album Shulamith

Joyous, youthful synth-pop from the Minnesotan band.

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0:10:08 / Young Galaxy: “Pretty Boy (Peaking Lights Remix)”, original version from the album Ultramarine

An undulating pop gem from Vancouver (via San Francisco).

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0:16:41 / Nosaj Thing feat. Kazu Makino: “Eclipse/Blue” from the album Home

Dreamy pop, featuring Makino’s (she of Blonde Redhead) ethereal vocal talents.

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0:20:57 / Suuns: “Minor Work” from the album Images Du Futur

Intelligent, modern rock music.

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0:26:49 / Joasihno: “Oh Boy” from the album A Lie

Quirky, carefree and forgivably twee frippery from this Bavarian duo.

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0:30:59 / Foxygen: “No Destruction” from the album We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic

The Californians channel a cheesy Bob Dylan - and get away with it.

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0:35:53 / David Bowie: “Love Is Lost (Hello Steve Reich Mix by James Murphy” from the album The Next Day Extra

Take Bowie’s triumphant return, add a respectful James Murphy (erstwhile of LCD Soundsystem) at his most inspired. The result is this astonishing track.

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0:46:16 / Banks: “Before I Ever Met You” from the EP Fall Over

Tied (with the preceding track) for best song of 2013, in this blog’s opinion.

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0:50:43 / Saltland: “Treehouse Schemes” from the album I Thought It Was Us But It Was All Of Us

Six minutes of beautiful contemplation from cellist Rebecca Foon (also of Esmerine – see this year’s mix).

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0:56:56 / Serafina Steer: “Night Before Mutiny” from the album The Moths Are Real

Jarvis Cocker (behind the production desk) breathes new life into this otherworldly tale of derring-do, originally recorded in 2010.

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1:01:54 / Agnes Obel: “Fuel To Fire” from the album Aventine

Beautifully simple, simply beautiful songwriting from this Danish chanteuse.

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1:07:21 / Moderat: “This Time” from the album II

Sascha Ring (Apparat) and Gernot Bronsert/Sebastian Szary (Modeselektor) once again find the soul in the machine.

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1:13:04 / Junip: “After All Is Said And Done” from the album Junip

Swedish artesans featuring the talents of José González, whom you may recall seduced listeners with a beautiful Kylie cover back in 2003.

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1:18:46 / ends

 

See also:

freeze/thaw: a 2012 mix

March 10, 2013

Freeze/thaw: a 2012 mix by Close To 94 on Mixcloud

The now-traditional companion to my annual compilation, this time themed to match the endless chill this winter has brought. Click on the Mixcloud embed above to listen.

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0:00:00 / Thomas Köner: “Novaya Zemlya 3″, from the Touch album Novaya Zemlya
[eMusic]

Köner’s meditation on the eponymous Arctic archipelago marked his return to the frozen climate of his 1990s trilogy Nunatak Gongamur, Teimo and Permafrost (reviewed here). The intervening decade or so has done nothing to diminish his unexplained affinity with this landscape. Surrender to its cold embrace.

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0:02:20 / Loscil: “Collision Of The Pacific Gatherer”, from the Kranky album Sketches From New Brighton
[Boomkat]

Another track with a strong sense of place: this time New Brighton, a coastal quarter in Scott Morgan’s (Loscil’s sole member; previously on close to 94) home of Vancouver. The tidal rhythm of “The Collision Of The Pacific Gatherer” aptly reflects the aftermath of the event it seeks to evoke: in 1930 a barge named “The Pacific Gatherer” ran into the Second Narrows Bridge, causing a section of the latter to fall into the water it spanned.

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0:06:59 / Shackleton: “Music From The Quiet Hour, Part 1″, from the Woe To The Septic Heart album Music For The Quiet Hour/The Drawbar Organ EPs
[eMusic]

Dubstep grandee Sam Shackleton (previously on close to 94) continued his journey into the remoter regions of the genre with his double release Music For The Quiet Hour/The Drawbar Organ EPs. The former set is a foreboding, cinematic exercise in dub, with his now-trademark take on African drumming timbres and rhythms adding to its potency.

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0:11:00 / Kangding Ray: “South”, from the Raster-Noton EP The Pentaki Slopes
[eMusic]

After making (in this blog’s opinion) possibly the finest electronic track of the past few years in 2011′s “Or” – featured on that year’s close to 94 annual mix – it was a racing certainty that, if David Letellier released anything in 2012, it would make the cut here too. He did, so it has.

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0:18:57 / Diamond Version: “Empowering Change”, from the Mute album EP1
[eMusic]

A glitch music supergroup comprising Raster-Noton label heads Carsten Nicolai (Alva Noto) and Olaf Bender (Byetone), Diamond Version sounds every bit as assured as you would expect. The sparse, driven power of “Empowering Change” comes from the first of five planned EPs on Mute.

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0:25:21 / Silent Servant: “Utopian Disaster (End)”, from the Hospital Productions album Negative Fascination
[eMusic]

I was fearful that the demise of the Sandwell District project would spell the end of key artists in residence like Function and Silent Servant. Thankfully not. The latter re-emerged on Hospital Productions with a typically solid set of industrial techno in Negative Fascination, including the concept-encapsulating and ultra-hypnotic “Utopian Disaster”.

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0:33:08 / Monolake: “Hitting The Surface”, from the Imbalance Computer Music album Ghosts
[Boomkat]

Robert Henke followed up 2009′s excellent Silence with Ghosts, a companion of sorts to the earlier album according to Henke’s own commentary. While not quite as successful as its predecessor overall, the uptempo “Hitting The Surface” bubbles along very nicely.

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0:39:22 / Valgeir Sigurðsson: “The Crumbling”, from the Bedroom Community album Architecture Of Loss
[eMusic]

The second movement (the thaw, as it were) of this mix starts with a beautifully tortured piece from Icelandic composer Sigurðsson’s third album, Architecture Of Loss. As the ice cracks, the crumbling begins.

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0:44:25 / Moon Ate The Dark: “She/Swimming”, from the Sonic Pieces album Moon Ate The Dark
[eMusic]

0:49:19 / Insa Donja Kai: “End Silence”, from the Sonic Pieces album Insomnie Joyeuse
[eMusic]

0:52:44 / Dictaphone: “The Conversation”, from the Sonic Pieces album Poems From A Rooftop
[eMusic]

This trio of acts from the consistently rewarding Sonic Pieces label (previously admired by close to 94) generate, in their individual ways, warmth and contentment in these (still) cold and harsh winter months. Moon Ate The Water pairs Welsh pianist Anna Rose Carter with Canadian producer Christopher Bailey on a flowing hymn to days by the river; Kai Angermann, Insa Schirmer and Donja Djember conjure the reverie of childhood memories; and Dictaphone (Oliver Doerell and Roger Doering) seemingly rework The Cure’s “Lullaby” as meditative improvisation.

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0:57:21 / Bersarin Quartett: “Zum Greifen Nah”, from the Denovali album II
[eMusic]

Thomas Bücker’s second album honed his reputation for rich, even epic, ambient composition. “Zum Greifen Nah” (“Within Reach”) is a typically cinematic piece, painting an aural picture of the search for a tantalising truth.

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1:02:58 / Jóhann Jóhannsson: “The Cause Of Labour Is The Hope Of The World”, from the Fat Cat album The Miners’ Hymns
[eMusic]

“The Cause Of Labour…” is taken from the score to The Miners’ Hymns, filmmaker Bill Morrison’s eulogy for the coal mining industry of north east England (watch the trailer). Jóhannsson’s stirring evocation of the tradition, dignity and pride inherent in the subject and its people shines through unequivocally.

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1:10:13 / Matthew Bourne: “Juliet”, from the Leaf album Montauk Variations
[eMusic]

On his Montauk Variations, Bourne turned his back on his hitherto mischievous, quirky take on contemporary jazz. As “Juliet” charmingly demonstrates, he has replaced it with a pastoral minimalism that provides the perfect end to a cold, cold winter.

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1:13:35 / ends

See also:

good in 2012

March 2, 2013

Good in 2012 by Close To 94 on Mixcloud

Ah 2012, another year of non-posting (and 2013 is shaping up nicely in the same respect). Musically, as ever, there was reason for a little more optimism: new artists continue to plough the comforting furrows of melancholic synth-pop, krautish indie, soulful folk and minimal composition to keep this blog ‘happy’.

Click on the Mixcloud embed above to listen. Or, if you’re a VIP, wait patiently for an increasingly redundant physical copy to wing its way to you.

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0:00:00 / Ryan Teague: “Shadow Play”, from the album Field Drawings
[eMusic]

Opening Teague’s exquisite album, Field Drawings, “Shadow Play” suggests a hopeful awakening. The Bristolian composer’s artful blend of pastoral and urban grows in confidence and resolve over its duration, but remains in thoughtful repose, just short of committed action.

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0:04:08 / Metric: “Artificial Nocturne”, from the album Synthetica
[eMusic]

“I’m just as f**ked up as they say” confesses Emily Haines at the beginning of this epic slice of power pop. The driving rhythm combines with cascading chords to provide a brimming articulation of the futility of 24-hour culture – an “Artificial Nocturne”.

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0:09:48 / ERAAS: “A Presence”, from the album ERAAS
[eMusic]

The new project by former members of haunt-rockists Apse, ERAAS wove a neo-gothic fantasy with its first album. “A Presence” possesses a mesmeric, halting motorik beat and calls to mind “Sea Within A Sea” by The Horrors, as featured on the 2009 edition in this compilation series.

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0:14:24 / Biosphere: “Blue Monday”, from the magazine promo Power, Corruption & Lies Covered
[Discogs]

Well, here’s a turn up for the books. Geir Jenssen, a.k.a. Biosphere, retreats from the ice caps and tundra to cover perhaps the most sacred artefact in the electronic pop canon. By rights it shouldn’t be here (it was apparently released by Mojo magazine at the end of December 2011), but it makes the cut because (a) it remains an unimpeachably good song, and (b) Jenssen didn’t mess it up.

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0:19:52 / Liars: “No. 1 Against The Rush”, from the album WIXIW
[eMusic]

The art-punk outfit’s second album for Mute show off its electronic chops more strongly than ever. Single “No. 1 Against The Rush” blends accessibility (there are hooks!) with otherness just so.

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0:25:00 / Holly Herdon: “Fade”, from the album Movement
[eMusic]

In Movement, Herndon produced a provocative work about the interplay between human and machine at an almost anatomical level. “Fade” – with its sliced vocals, chopped beats and pounded bass – provides a energising way into the darker, more visceral sounds elsewhere on the album.

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0:31:15 / Grimes: “Genesis”, from the album Visions
[Boomkat]

Whereas Holly Herndon evokes a sometimes fraught fusion between tissue and metal, in Grimes’ music (created single-handedly by Claire Boucher) music the two forces duet in ethereal harmony. Transporting.

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0:35:29 / NZCA/Lines: “Atoms & Axes”, from the album NZCA/Lines
[eMusic]

Pure nostalgia, recalling the early, innocent synth-pop of early Depeche Mode, as well as previous revivalists (as noted in several reviews) like Junior Boys. No pretensions, other than those held back in the early 1980s by Michael Lovett’s (NZCA/Lines sole band member) antecedents, trapped in amber for our benefit and enlightenment 30 years later.

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0:40:18 / Clark: “Black Stone”, from the album Iradelphic
[eMusic]

An acoustic interlude from Iradelphic, Chris Clark’s wide-ranging tableaux of an album (though unmistakably Warp with it). As a whole the release didn’t cohere for this listener, though pockets of beauty, such as “Black Stone”, made it worthy of exploration.

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0:42:17 / Bat For Lashes: “Laura”, from the album The Haunted Man
[iTunes]

The lead single from Natasha Khan’s third album, The Haunted Man. Khan is among Britain’s finest songwriters of recent years, as “Laura”’s redemptive fable (and her previous appearance in this compilation series) attests.

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0:46:36 / DIIV: “Doused”, from the album Oshin
[eMusic]

Back to krautrock, back to Brooklyn (c.f. ERAAS, above – what is it about upper case, double-vowelled band names there?). But who’s complaining?

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0:50:12 / The Liminanas: “Salvation”, from the album Crystal Anis
[eMusic]

Effortlessly cool, unabashedly retro, seductively French – think Gainsbourg meets Spector with a banjo. Magnifique.

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0:53:30 / Choir Of Young Believers: “Nye Nummer Et”, from the album Rhine Gold
[eMusic]

Jannis Noya Makrigiannis’ music hit mainstream consciousness when his (still stunning) “Hollow Talk” (from 2008’s This Is For The White In Your Eyes) was used as the theme for Danish/Swedish crime drama, The Bridge. I think “Nye Nummer Et” means “New Number One”. And it should be.

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0:58:05 / Alt-J: “Something Good”, from the album An Awesome Wave
[eMusic]

∆, to spell the band’s name correctly, won the Mercury Music Prize in 2012 with their debut An Awesome Wave. “Something Good” is a sprightly ditty whose pensive quality makes it a stand-out among its more generic brethren on the album.

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1:01:37 / Sharon Van Etten: “Give Out”, from the album Tramp
[eMusic]

Van Etten produced possibly the year’s finest Americana in Tramp, recorded with fellow neo-folk luminaries Zach Condon (from Beirut) and Julianna Barwick among others. But it’s honesty and directness, not cool collaborations, that give songs like “Give Out” their potency.

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1:05:54 / Cold Specks: “Winter Solstice”, from the album I Predict A Graceful Expulsion
[eMusic]

Al Spx (real name unknown), as the creative force behind Cold Specks, created a rare wellspring of authenticity in a world where increasingly one can look only to the past for that vital state of being. Her expansive songwriting and powerful vocals blend folk, gospel, soul and working song – music to be listened to, not written about.

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1:09:57 / Dustin O’Halloran: “Fragile N.4″, from the album Lumiere
[Boomkat]

Lumiere, from which “Fragile N.4” was taken, was released in 2011, so is here (due to administrative error) under false pretences. But no matter: O’Halloran’s rich, forgivably syrupy piece feels the right way to close.

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1:13:26 / ends

See also:

Concert date: February 24, 2012

Rammstein, "Engel", live at the O2, London, February 24th 2012

Almost two years to the day, Rammstein return to London, this time to the O2. While the key set pieces in the show were present last time around, the performance lost none of its impact, musically or in the jaw-dropping staging. Simply stunning. I refer you to my 2010 review for more details.

Video on YouTube:

Photos on Flickr

albums of the year 2011

February 11, 2012

A final look back at 2011, with a countdown of my ten favourite albums of last year.

#10
Tim Hecker: Ravedeath, 1972

Tim Hecker: Ravedeath, 1972 (Kranky)
Featured on the close to 94 mix reaching down

#09
Hauschka & Hildur Guðnadóttir: Pan Tone

Hauschka & Hildur Guðnadóttir: Pan Tone (Sonic Pieces)
Featured on the close to 94 mix reaching down

#08
Emika: Emika

Emika: Emika (Ninja Tune)
Featured on the close to 94 compilation good in 2011

#07
Kangding Ray: Or

Kangding Ray: Or (Raster-Noton)
Featured on the close to 94 mix reaching down

#06
Chris Watson: El Tren Fantasma

Chris Watson: El Tren Fantasma (Touch)
Featured on the close to 94 mix reaching down

#05
Kreng: Grimoire

Kreng: Grimoire (Miasmah)
Featured on the close to 94 mix reaching down

#04
Pinch & Shackleton: Pinch & Shackleton

Pinch & Shackleton: Pinch & Shackleton (Honest Jon’s)
Featured on the close to 94 mix reaching down

#03
Swod: Drei

Swod: Drei (City Centre Offices)
Featured on the close to 94 compilation good in 2011

#02
Nils Økland & Sigbjørn Apeland: Lysøen: Hommage À Ole Bull

Nils Økland & Sigbjørn Apeland: Lysøen: Hommage À Ole Bull (ECM)
Featured on the close to 94 mix reaching down

#01
Jacaszek: Glimmer

Jacaszek: Glimmer (Ghostly International)
Featured on the close to 94 mix reaching down

reaching down: a 2011 mix

February 11, 2012

Reaching down: a 2011 mix by Close To 94 on Mixcloud

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0:00:00 / Kreng: “La Poule Noire”, from the album Grimoire
[eMusic] [Boomkat] [iTunes]

Belgian sound collagist and theatre composer Pepijn Caudron’s book of magic casts a mesmerising spell over the listener, conjuring a Grimm world of shadowy threat and decaying beauty. Its dark universe becomes, at times, so oppressive it leaves you caught between seeking escape and welcoming surrender. Delicious. (Listen for yourself.)

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0:03:41 / Hana: “Tate”, from the promo Wire Tapper 25

Low key, simmering techno from Greek duo Thanos Papadopoulos and Thanos Bantis, culled from the April 2011 edition of the Wire magazine’s promo CD/download series. To date, Hana have just one album of austere analogue electronics to their name. More please.

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0:07:15 / Daphni: “Ahora”, from the single Ahora
[eMusic] [Boomkat] [iTunes]

Daphni is none other than Dan Snaith (Caribou, formerly Manitoba), so you know what to expect: lush electronics, organic rhythms, skewed melodies, solid grooves.

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0:12:41 / Hauschka & Hildur Guðnadóttir: “Cool Gray 1″, from the album Pan Tone
[eMusic] [Boomkat] [iTunes]

In Pan Tone, German pianist Volker Bertelmann (Hauschka) and Icelandic cellist Guðnadóttir collaborated to produce one of the year’s most satisfying additions to the modern classical canon. The two musicians seem to interact and play off each other like seasoned jazz partners, recalling in places the meditative improvisations of The Necks. A fine addition to the wonderful Sonic Pieces label’s catalogue. (Listen here.)

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0:19:09 / Tim Hecker: “In The Fog II”, from the album Ravedeath, 1972
[eMusic] [Boomkat] [iTunes]

2011 saw not one but two outstanding releases from Canadian noise-whisperer Tim Hecker: centrepiece Ravedeath, 1972 and a curated selection of out-takes from those sessions, Dropped Pianos. Despite being recorded in Iceland (with Ben Frost contributing production duties), Hecker’s harmonic drones on Ravedeath evoke shimmering heat mirages, tantalising yet unreachable.

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0:23:55 / Chris Watson: “El Divisadero (The Telegraph)”, from the single El Tren Fantasma (The Signal Man’s Mix)
[eMusic] [Boomkat] [iTunes]

Sound recordist Chris Watson’s output has tended to focus on the natural world, revealing new dimensions to our environment  that can only be experienced once you close your eyes (see previous posts). El Tren Fantasma (“ghost train”), Watson’s 2011 album and accompanying single – based on recordings made for a BBC television programme – mark a departure (if you’ll  pardon the pun) as it reveals the industrial grind, strain and toil of Mexico’s railway system.

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0:29:52 / Kangding Ray: “Or”, from the album Or
[eMusic] [Boomkat] [iTunes]

Kangding Ray’s (David Letellier) latest album fuses minimal techno, bass and industrial to create a kind of, well, minimal industrial - the pistons, hydraulics and drills are still there but now they operate in sterile conditions, to nanometre precision, under the control of remote CPUs. Yet the machine has a heartbeat, as the title track (featuring the ubiquitous Ben Frost) amply demonstrates.

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0:35:00 / Answer Code Request: “Escape Myself”, from the single Subway Into
[eMusic] [Boomkat] [iTunes]

It’s fortunate that this fairly obscure (apparently German) garage/electronica ditty found its way onto Marcel Dettmann‘s highly recommended minimalish techno mix, Conducted. Otherwise its pleasingly propulsive shuffle wouldn’t have slotted into this mix, right here.

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0:39:15 / Pinch & Shackleton: “Rooms Within A Room”, from the album Pinch & Shackleton
[Boomkat] [iTunes]

I didn’t know dubstep could sound like this, bristling as Pinch & Shackleton is with exoticism, intellect, imagination and emotion. On their self-titled collaboration, Rob Ellis (Pinch) and Sam Shackleton brought renewed clarity to the normally submerged soundworld of the genre, in doing so moving its narrative away from the streets and into the mind.

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0:44:32 / Regis: “Blood Witness”, from the EP In A Syrian Tongue
[eMusic] [Boomkat] [iTunes]

Erstwhile member of the apparently-defunct (and, if so, sorely missed) Sandwell District label, Regis (Karl O’Connor) exemplifies that collective’s uncompromising, muscular take on the techno ethic.

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0:50:00 / Jacaszek: “As Each Tucked String Tells”, from the album Glimmer
[eMusic] [Boomkat] [iTunes]

Polish musician Michał Jacaszek’s seventh album sounds like it was assembled by a magical tinker or watchmaker – a multitude of tiny components that combine to become one living, mechanical organism. Blending baroque, ambient and jazz, Glimmer lives up to its name, a flickering lightbulb in the musty gloom. Captivating.

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0:53:33 / Alva Noto + Ryuichi Sakamoto: “Naono”, from the album Summvs
[eMusic] [Boomkat] [iTunes]

Alva Noto‘s stark digital backdrops are the perfect foil for Sakamoto‘s melodramatic piano melodies; it’s no wonder they found each other. Summvs is their fifth collaboration in ten years, and retains its predecessors’ blend of fire and ice. The sonar motif of the beautiful “Naono” evokes an imaginary underwater journey beneath a frozen sea.

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0:59:27 / Roly Porter: “Arrakis”, from the album Aftertime
[eMusic] [Boomkat] [iTunes]

Bristolian Roly Porter’s visceral debut took analogue synthesisers, including an ondes martenot, and field recording sources and systematically mangled them with the kind of noise generators and filters beloved of the other drone connoisseur in this mix, Tim Hecker. And like Hecker, Porter’s distorted musicality is both unsettling and affecting.

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1:02:48 / Petrels: “Winchester Croydon Winchester”, from the album Haeligewielle

Oliver Barrett (a.k.a Petrels) drew on somewhat obscure historical inspiration for his solo debut (he is also a member of Bleeding Heart Narrative): pagan water sources (“haeligewielle” is the Anglo-Saxon antecedent of “holy well”) and the life and work of William Walker, a renowned diver who shored up Winchester Cathedral in the early 20th century. The result is a surprisingly coherent blend of folk, field recording and post-rock, a deserving soundtrack for a biopic yet to be filmed.

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1:05:37 / Nils Økland & Sigbjørn Apeland: “Belg Og Slag”, from the album Lysøen: Hommage À Ole Bull
[eMusic] [iTunes]

Sometimes I wonder if I should give my listening entirely to the output of the ECM label. Its studied simplicity and singular worldview brings harmony, even in dissonance, to the disequilibrium of modern life. This tribute to Ole Bull, the 19th century Norwegian violinist and composer, was recorded in his home on the island of Lysøen. The two musicians – voilinist Økland and organist Apeland – tread the line between recital, composition and improvisation so gracefully you almost feel the Nordic wind in your eyes.

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1:08:20 / Khyam Allami: “Individuation”, from the album Resonance/Dissonance
[eMusic] [iTunes]

Syria-born Londoner Khyam Allami arrived at the oud as his instrument of choice only in 2004, after playing violin, drums and bass guitar in various settings since childhood (he’s now the ripe ‘old’ age of 30). His debut album betrays the startling proficiency and intuition in both composition and performance he has accumulated in less than eight years.

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1:14:17 / ends

See also:

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