The Geography Trip
The Geography Trip is an independent label which is dedicated to the “weird vortices of the British countryside and beyond.” Launched in 2012, the Manchester-based (UK) label has released a cassette tape and an LP showcasing new and previously unheard talent. The latter, Extant, is the child of a mysterious artist behind the moniker OH/EX/OH, whose vision is to create a “soundtrack to an alternative future”. Although the album is billed as a “dystopian drone odyssey”, there are many light moments among the harmonic elongated chords. Ambient swells shift in palette and texture to transform the listener into its despondent world, but the rhythm and melody are still present throughout. Abandoned remnants of barely distinguishable voices slowly creep up from beneath the shadows of this noir-fi aural film, and finally declare through the dying wind: “May the Blessings of the Bomb Almighty, and the Fellowship of the Holy Fallout, descend upon us all. This day and forever more.” As such, instead of dark ambient or dynamically dull drone, I would rather file this album along with the haunting and cinematic recordings from some of my favorite artists such as Kreng, Kaboom Karavan, Black Swan, and 36. It’s more complex than that. My only wish is that some of these tracks extend to a ten-minute mark. I will surely keep my eye on the label with hopes and expectations for more.
Within a cardboard package awaits its turn a sound. Within an empty room awaits its turn the lack of thereof. The configuration, texture and material of each wall, each ceiling and each door make up a perfect environment for persistence of sound, after that sound is no longer produced. Two Rooms is a documented record of one such occurrence, set out to be captured by Unrecognizable Now. Yet this is not another field recording from an unknown group. Behind the moniker is a duo of Matthew Jones and Marcus Fischer. Behind the door lies a meditative exploration of music within a space. Recorded at the Board of Trade building using room microphones in 2011, the duo used the natural reverb of the rooms to compose slowly evolving vibrations and din. Released on Simon Scott‘s independent Kesh Recordings and mastered by Taylor Deupree, this little gem of a record may at first slip by the most avid collectors of organic ambiance, so often attributed to the output of world renown 12k. In the recent years, Scott, Fischer, and Deupree have all been at the crest within evolution of this genre, so it’s always nice to see them sharing ideas among each other’s imprints. The digital edition of this limited release is nicely topped of with two remixes by Kane Ikin and Simon Scott. It’s always a pleasure to step into their minimal world of music, where sound maintains its relationship with space.
I recently came upon the work of Porya Hatami when I listened to and reviewed his contribution towards the Flaming Pines‘ Birds of a Feather series. I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised by the experimental ambient drones of this Iranian artist. And yes, I’ll be honest enough to say that the cause of my surprise was his origin country. I’ve never heard ambient music coming out of Iran (have you?) and his release on Nephogram only solidifies his presence among acoustic, environmental and minimal sound. Using processed organic and electronic sources, Hatami works the micro-glitched constructs into his field recordings to create textured atmospherics to the likes of Taylor Deupree, Marcus Fischer and Sawako. Unstable is one of those albums best consumed on a lazy Sunday morning, playing somewhere in the background of your slowly waking mind. Waves of running water, blowing wind and chirping birds will gradually invade and conquer your living space until you’re left with nothing but elated din. Track titles on the album, such as “Transition”, “Uncertain” and “Unstable” suggest to the fragile nature of music housed within. Definitely check out more releases from this independent electro-acoustic label, especially if you’re a fan of 12k output. Be sure to pick up Hatami’s debut, titled Land, released on Somehow Recordings in 2012.
Franz Rosati + Francesco Saguto
Another little treat from Nephogram label is an album by Franz Rosati + Francesco Saguto titled GRIDSHAPE. This is an acoustic guitar exploration that quickly turns into a torrent of distortion and just as fast dives off the noise cliff back into repose. The sounds of classic, prepared, and distorted guitars are contrasted between electronic and processed manipulations, until the two become entangled in a dance, inseparable and intertwined. This experiment in electro-acoustic composition traverses through track titles starting with “In a Pre-Liminal State” to “Progressionn Through Reposition” and finally “In a Post-Liminal State”, where the listener is faced with ambiguity and disorientation occurring during this sonic ritual. The listener is finally transfixed during the transitional state of aural decay – where buildups of noise highlight the silence, only to reveal that it was always there, even during most clamorous moments. GRIDSHAPE is only sixteenth release on Nephogram, an independent Italian label specializing in a variety of electronic, experimental and electroacoustic works. In 2011 the label evolved from a netlabel and began publishing physical media. Nephogram is based out of Rome and is run and operated by the same Franz Rosati featured in this review. And yes, the label is smart enough to charter Taylor Deupree for his excellent 12k mastering touch.