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Yenisei Crossing by Mystified
- posted by Robin B. James on 8/21/2020
Yenisei Crossing: Mystified
Dark electronic textures exploring generative-iterative extra-musical acousmatic and experiential mixed organic ambient spaces. The sound is largely consisting of repeated short segments which sometimes sound something like tape loops, perhaps to be listened to while working, sleeping or doing other things. There is no conventional sense of melody, the tempo and rhythm are not restricted and are not based on heartbeats or traditional dance metrics, so it sounds strange and unusual, which is why it is so highly prized. This sound is definitely rare in any music store, unless you already have considered the growing history of Musique Concréte and experimental composition by the likes of Rapoon or Zoviet France.

My experiences with audio loops were always with a reel to reel tape recorder, a razor blade, and some sticky tape to hold the circles of magnetic recording tape together. It creates an endlessly repeating sound that can be amusing to experiment with. I had the opportunity to ask Thomas Park aka Mystified about his current work, and this is one of the things he revealed.

"It has been said that all music is rhythm, or percussion. If this is true, then I hope to help musicians and listeners alike realize that they can be free of militant or precise rhythms, as I feel that the West has a sort of craze with rhythmic precision that is far from ideal."

That leaves the door open to quite a lot of otherwise unexplored territory. Next I asked him what the album's title means. When I searched for the word "Yenisei" I learned that the Yenisei River flows through Siberia and into the Arctic Ocean, it is the fifth-longest river system in the world. The maximum depth of the Yenisei is about 80 ft, the average depth is about 45 ft. Starting in Mungaragiyn-Gol (Mongolia), it flows north to the Yenisei Gulf in the Kara Sea. To the west is the often frozen Western Siberian Plain, to the east is the chilly Central Siberian Plateau. The Yenisei River basin includes the deepest lake in the world, Lake Baikal. The Yenisei River flows through a large part of central Siberia.

This is what I learned from the composer about his album title's relationship to the Siberian river. "The river “Yenisei” is part of “Yenisei Crossing”, which alludes to a crossing of that river. Why a remote part of Russia? I have had a series of dreams of varying clarity in which I live in primitive Siberia, eking out a living on the chilly plains."

I asked him specifically about the story of the creation of Yenisei Crossing. Please note that Python is an interpreted, high-level, general-purpose programming language.

"At the time, a lot was going on with me creatively. I had been working on a series of Python applications that enabled my processor to, mainly, choose a body of samples, treat them in any of certain ways, and then map them out on a live looping console. I could get some unexpected and really interesting loop-based compositions this way."

"The first immediate advantage was that I did not have to spend hours preparing loops for mixing. The Python code took that task out of my hands. Nor did I have to rely on my own rather specific and perhaps predictable choices. The random functions available to me put sounds together in ways I would not have predicted. Sometimes the result was unlistenable, but more often than not it was intriguing, to say the least. Pursuing coded music has become a sort of dream-escape for me, or pastime. Like my nocturnal visions of Siberia, they took me places I never thought I would experience."

The Yenisei River valley is habitat for numerous flora and fauna, with Siberian pine, Siberian larch, and Scots pine, or Pinus sylvestris, which was abundant in the Yenisei River valley before 6000 BC. Some of the earliest known evidence of human enigma can be found at the confluence of the headstreams of the Yenisei Valley, where stelae, or stone monoliths and memorial tablets which date from between the 7th and 9th centuries AD, are still waiting.

The song titles were generated using coded random string generation. The composer suggests that you might think of them as remnants of some forgotten language, or, perhaps, transmissions from space of someone we have yet to encounter.

Subtle music using the generative-iterative method, created for those with a taste for the dark and minimal. It has also been said that the tracks have an inner consistency, that these tracks make a good set, that they work well together and with one another. They are also a bit dark and edgy-- they push the boundaries of ambient. With this new release, we must admit, there is a chance, a possibility, that it will be summarily rejected, and that excites me. Taking chances is something we constantly learn to perfect, in order to build upon, or to plunder our own new treasures from, all in order to find an unexpected new way into our futures. We, the listeners, are at the center of things, sound identities can often be intentionally obscured or appear unconnected to their source, in order to unlock our own completely new possibilities for organizing the music of our future “Great River.”

Tracklist
1. Luszg
2. Xtwz6
3. Oecv4
4. Dze3w
5. Fhovv
6. Oww98
7. Wixwg
8. L31mf
9. P64ii
10. Krr0e
11. Ti7n8
12. S46p5
13. Ex0gy
14. Ex98r
15. Eu9on
16. Emdsu
17. Bszo9
Rating: Excellent
Moving Through Worlds by Fiona Joy
- posted by Robin B. James on 8/21/2020
Moving Through Worlds
This is a great time for something brighter and lighter, something that brings some ease to the weary listener, who is seeking feelings of harmony and simple respite from our troubled world. The gifted composer, singer, and pianist Fiona Joy Hawkins has just the thing, a new album titled Moving Through Worlds. I hear an enchanting and amazing exploration of themes such as land, water, fire, climate change and the vanishing of souls into the wind. The 14 tracks feature mostly solo piano, some are duos with violin or cello, some have a more full range of accompanists. The sound has a way of traversing lots of moods, rich with dynamic energy. In places the sound is delicate and slow, in places the feelings build and gain velocity and then gently recede.

County Clare has a strong history of traditional music, with many seasonal music festivals. One of the legends for the origin of the county name Clare, sometimes also called the Banner County, comes from the settlement of Clare (now Clarecastle), whose name Clár, or plank bridge, is a place for crossing over the River Fergus. The first track, "Calling County Clare" (5:06) is a haunting bit of a quiet easy dance with piano, percussion, acoustic guitar, bass, Irish flute, and vocals floating ethereally. There is a new video that is based on this song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTsSX3YtecY

The Australian bush is tinder dry and has been increasingly dangerous in recent times, last year was named the Black Summer because of the unusually intense bushfires throughout Australia. On this album, Fiona Joy has several songs meditating on this terrible time, the second track of the album is titled "Bushfire Moon" (5:03) The musical style crosses into the jazz world, and the solo piano brings the listener into a sense of wonder, while remembering and honoring the devastation of nature, enduring such a tragic inferno.

There's nothing like a bit of rain to gladden the hearts, "Prayer For Rain" (4:08) has a lighter, slower feel, with vocal touches. I am thinking of an undying wish during a drought, may God open the heavens and let the merciful rain down upon the fields and mountains, bringing relief to the parched landscape.

All we have left in the end is memories, and the fourth track is a graceful and powerful meditation on what is left. This is my favorite song on the album because it is somehow both sad, enduring, and life affirming. "All That is Left" (5:34) has a light vocal shadowing, a shifting pace, with violin and horn, understated percussion, like the breeze the song gradually slows down quietly then resumes.

The color of lakes and oceans ranges in hue, the deeper the pool, the bluer the water. Seen up close water is clear and might have no color, but from a distance oceans and deep lakes have a magical blue color, "Aqua 1" (1:55) it the first of two meditations on water heard on this album, the first meditation has quiet hesitant beginning that blossoms into brighter colors.

Legends tell of a time, thousands or millions of years ago, when the Crystal Desert was covered in water. When I first heard the title of this next track I thought of arid and dry sandy landscapes, a hot and hostile environment, with a lack of easily accessible resources, and intense isolation, yet filled with a strange sunbaked beauty. "Desert of Crystal" (4:28) makes me think of geometric forms in a large open landscape, vocals floating, violin shimmering. It turns out that the composer was thinking of ice, snow and the sphere of the winds.

Crystal Desert is a nickname for Australia's southern neighbor Antarctica, on average the coldest, driest, and windiest continent, invoking visions of endless permanent winter populated by isolated romping nematodes, penguins, seals and tardigrades. Other historical names for this ocean and ice-locked region of glaciers and rock outcrops include Ultima and Antipodea.

Timelessness matters most when you have no time. The heart of midnight homes in on the sadness of a friend passing at midnight. Am I the one who is dreaming? Art doesn’t “change the world," instead it changes the terms. Today we find a resurrection, yet no words pass between us. For the tenth track, "Passing Of Midnight" (3:39), I hear a thoughtful meditation, piano with cello in a quiet mood, bringing forth the subtle dynamics we so love, the feeling builds and the feeling relaxes.

Moving through parallel worlds, sometimes objects can exist in more than one location simultaneously, even though the objects are invisible to us in all but one location. To achieve our dreams and exist in a world that is exactly as you imagine it should be, with science and timeless wisdom, somehow to guide you on a path about the sweep of time and surviving how it fragments and impinges upon lived human experience.

Sometimes one has to go into those difficult issues in order to come out the other side, coming out the other side. This also unlocks the ability to dream and connect to the ghosts of those who died, and can modify the energy of the colors primarily to stretch and bend into themes of peace and release. Moving Through Worlds is a journey of transition from danger and loss, the transforming miracles of nature and humanity, but today we gather to mourn, honour, reflect and begin to learn from the black summer that continues. To enjoy the color of water's vibrational states, as well as the the cold and dark as deep related questions about what we do not see.

The songs come from different worlds and together they create a sense of hope and beauty for listeners to enjoy. We are forced to continually change our strategies and tactics to accomplish our tasks. The winds blow hard, making and unmaking dunes, covering up the present and uncovering the past. We utilize these traditions as symbols, which reflect honor and respect on those who have given so much and who have served so well, sharing concerns for the future of threatened wildlife, such as glossy black cockatoos, Kangaroo Island dunnarts, and koalas. If the legends are true, we can pass through worlds again and again, always learning and always experiencing new seasons.

1 Calling County Clare (5:06)
2 Bushfire Moon (5:03)
3 Prayer For Rain (4:08)
4 All That is Left (5:34)
5 Aqua 1 (1:55)
6 Prelude in E Minor (Chopin, #4) (2:37)
7 Desert of Crystal (4:28)
8 Tolling of the Fire Bell (5:18)
9 Aqua 2 (1:20)
10 Passing Of Midnight (3:39)
11 Moving Through Worlds (4:28)
12 For the Roses (Solo Piano) (3:28)
13 Song For Louise (1:49)
14 Twilight Moment (2:32)
Rating: Excellent
Emotional Landscapes by Erik Wøllo
- posted by Robin B. James on 8/7/2020
Remastered album from Spotted Peccary Music
Electric guitar soundscapes, layered textures and atmospheric symphonics, remastered from the original 2003 release SPM-1203, this is a streaming digital-only re-release, not available on vinyl or CD, originally recorded at Wintergarden Studio in Norway 2001-2002, with cover art by Greg Klamt, and photography by Erik Wøllo.

Imagine different types of twilight in which emotions could form a landscape described best from a distant vantage point, moving through a wide range in style and mood, giving us time to dream. Erik Wøllo is a Norwegian composer and musician, a guitarist and synthesist, on this album he plays guitar synthesizers, electric and acoustic guitars, keyboards, electric bass guitar, percussion, and created the programming. Liv Frengstad plays cello on "Sounds of the Seen, Part I" and "Sounds of the Seen, Part II."

Music is a way to utilize the power of creativity, an entry point for connection and meaning. On Emotional Landscapes I hear variations of meditations on sunrises that start quietly and build into complex layers. Human emotions could mean many things, the range of emotions could possibly include war as well as peace, energized and dormant, negative and positive, but the songs on Emotional Landscapes are consistently calm and positive, often constructed by steadily building themes and layers, always an interesting weave of ideas expressed on guitars and electronics, the music is sometimes melancholic, always very hopeful and affirming.

Erik Wøllo has been using his guitar since he was 11 years old, learning to bring a new freshness to the light, to ignite our thoughts to beauty. Under the midnight sun, there is a continuous period of twilight during the summer months in Norway, and during the winter, the darkness, a musical silence, the soul hearing the melody that the ears could not. The dawn of a new beginning, when light is still visible in the sky due to sunlight scattering off the atmosphere, the sunrise over the water with distant mountains. When the world is sleeping at midnight, dreams come as nature's easel, giving brilliant colors and mystery to the vast starlit night.

The symbols of nature are usually the objects and things from nature that represent thoughts related to them, I hear whirling air, I think of dawn on the water as a new day begins. There is color on the cloudy horizon, with textured atmospherics, distant birds at sunrise, the musical elements collect and grow into melodic themes. "In The Picture" (2:46).

Metaphors can be implied and extended nonliteral comparisons, the metaphors we use shape the world and our interactions to it. Metaphors spontaneously arise in art and serve as an entry point for connection and meaning. They spread so quickly and smoothly, a new beginning, symbolizing nature's easel, giving brilliant color to what was hidden under the passing starlit night. The second track, "Metaphor" (4:45) begins with guitar finger patterns, continuing the cloudy melodic dawn, which expands into a flow, and then percussion completes the transition into form.

Euclid defined the term "prism," referring to a geometric shape with polished surfaces that refract light and display the colors of the rainbow. In the track "Prism" (4:16) I hear emerging textures patterns, kalidescopic synthesizer drones arcing over clouds and then wind, changing light caused by subtle movement, rising patterns and glowing.

A totem is a spirit being, sacred object, or symbol that serves as an emblem of a group of people, such as a family, clan, lineage, or tribe. The "Second Totem" (5:25) begins with voices from distant times that blend and echo through a matrix, shamanic dance elements with melodic patterns unfolding joined by beats that layer in repeating patterns.

This next track is my favorite song, "Sounds of the Seen, Part I" (8:06). It begins as the cello sings a sad haunting melody floating through a wash of atmospheric electronic textures, eventually percussion kicks in and the textures take movement and form, a dance takes shape about half way through, and after a journey, the track ends in a collage including field recordings of people's voices happily echoing in a large building. The album notes indicate that the voices of people were recorded under the World Trade Center in August of 2001. Liv Frengstad plays the cello.

A valley is a low area between hills or mountains often with a river running through it. The sixth track is titled "Valley" (3:02) and what I hear is a guitar cathedral, atmospherics sustained high above us, framed by a landscape that is green and alive in the warm weather, valleys surround the mountains in all directions and in the darkness of night, northern lights illuminate the sky.

The concept of virtual worlds significantly predates computers, Pliny the Elder spoke of perceptual illusion, and in 1962 the cinematographer Morton Heilig explored the creation of the Sensorama, a theatre experience designed to stimulate vision, sound, balance, smell, even touch, through wind. A virtual world facilitates interaction across time and geographic boundaries, on the track "Virtual World" (5:54) I hear thicker electronics emerging with beats forming textures and glowing complexities, guitar sounds travel along, interlocking elements create a kinetic feeling of dance and locomotion.

The synthetic worlds blend into the next track, "Mountain Beach" (5:20) in which I hear cascading melodic pulses merging rhythmically into repeating patterns, subtle ringing chimes and even these toughest and most rugged landscapes shine beautifully, through deep forests, arctic tundras, grand mountain tops, colorful grass-roofed houses, and, of course, majestic fjords.

Next, it is time to return to the big room with the sad cello that haunts our memories, "Sounds of the Seen, Part II" (3:06) makes me think of flocks of small electronic birds at dawn taking form, joined by Liv Frengstad on cello.

In outer space, a satellite is an object in orbit around a larger object, and can take the form of natural satellites such as Earth's Moon, or the word can refer to objects such as the world's first artificial satellite, such as Sputnik 1, which joined the peripheral regions of our planet on the 4th of October in 1957, and began the age of space exploration. The track "Satellite" (4:20) brings the listener deep into space where a repeating melody rises, transforms, and then fades into the darkness.

The measure or beat of movement, the pulse or pace in the darkness, "Echo of Night / Cadence" (6:20) brings to my mind’s eye many layers of electronic textures emerging from the void and taking form, lightly dancing, a science fiction ghost story told with distinct electric guitar engaging in dialogue with keyboards, washed away to be replaced by a more somber ceremonial dawn.

It has been a long journey through many different slow textures, clouds of cicada, the ocean in the distance gently slips away to reveal the final song, "The Hidden Track" (9:53).

Norway is famous for its fjords, still blue lakes that stretch deep inland, often with cliffs towering either side. Waterfalls in Norway are renowned for their power and size, with a steady supply of water coming from its fjords, lakes, glaciers and mountains. Twilight is the time between day and night when there is light outside, but the Sun is below the horizon. Allowing for silence, choice, exploration, and observation, what would an emotional landscape sound like in terms of melody, intensity, setting, style, and feeling? Landscapes can be vastly different and can include settings like the woods, oceans, deserts, fields, mountains, etc. Silence can be supportive and grounding, especially as a sanctuary from the often frenetic energy of the universe. This collection of guitar-based electronica offers ways to explore our emotions and experiences through metaphor, in a continuous period of darkness becoming twilight that transforms into d
Rating: Excellent
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