What happens when you take the founder of Miasmah records, Erik K Skodvin (aka Svarte Greiner and one half of Deaf Center), put him together with experimental drummer and electroacoustic musician Andrea Belfi and throw in a prolific drone metal avant-everything composer, Aidan Baker (also member of Nadja with Leah Buckareff)? Well, you get what is known as a ‘supergroup‘ in the underground circles (I’m thinking here of Supersilent, Mortiz Von Oswald Trio and Black Elk), that’s what happens, and the result is beyond all my expectations. Closer to the darker experimental and improvisational explorations of each individual artist’s output, the début collaboration under the B/B/S/ abbreviation is nothing but a marvel of sinister grandeur. Driven by an upbeat rhythm of Belfi’s abstract percussion, the deep distorted undertones of Baker’s versatile bass and the scratching growling of Skodvin’s bowed guitar, Brick Mask manages to capture the combined elements of post-everything doom-metal where each musician uniquely represents his own aesthetic in sound, while managing to seamlessly blend the output into one single stream of consciousness, as if these three have been at it for some time. This is yet another illegitimate mongrel of Berlin’s swarming and dense music scene, and I only wish for this ménage à trois to keep fertile for the many years to come!
Otto A Totland / Erik K Skodvin
Harmony From The Past
Short EPs are notoriously difficult to cover. Like a an appetizer from a master chef who will not prepare the meal, the music is just a teaser for the things that never come. In the case of Otto A Totland and Erik K Skodvin split EP, the four tracks barely go over the five-minute mark on each side of this fragile 7″ vinyl. And I’ll admit that if it wasn’t for the utterly devastating one-minute long track, titled “Lys” by Totland I may not have covered this tiny gem at all. The piece is so heartbreaking that I immediately sat at my piano to attempt and transcribe it for my own improvisation. Although the duo has previously worked together before, most notably, of course, on their Deaf Center project, the two sides of the record include solo works by each artist. Totland along with Huw Roberts is also a member of Nest with wonderful releases on Serein. Not sure if Skodvin needs another introduction, but besides running and curating his amazing Miasmah label, he also records under the Svarte Greiner moniker, and most recently as a member of B/B/S/. Skodvin’s contribution to the split is the B side of a percussion driven stumbling synth howler, experimenting with rhythms, texture and tone. It is the three pieces by Otto that continue to stay on rotation in my headphones, and I dare to reach out and demand for a full length collection of these beautifully tragic droplets of sound.
loscil feat. Kelly Wyse
Self / Frond
When I was lucky enough to witness Scott Morgan‘s live performance at Seattle’s Decibel Festival, I was pleasantly surprised to find Kelly Wyse behind the keys. Wyse previously played piano on Rafael Anton Irisarri‘s Reverie (Immune, 2010) and Orcas self-titled début on Morr (2012). So when I saw his name being featured along loscil on this collaborative release, I immediately jumped at the opportunity to secure a copy. Even better than that, I have received a signed vinyl pressing as part of my contribution towards Irisarri’s Substrata 1.3 festival campaign on Indigogo. So it’s a total win-win for me. Subtitled ‘Adaptations for Piano and Laptop‘, the five-track self-released Intervalo features loscil’s compositions taken from Endless Falls (Kranky, 2010), Sketches From New Brighton (Kranky, 2012) and City Hospital (Wist Rec 2012), all of which have been reworked into familiar pulsating ambient textures complimented by beautiful piano notes, at times abstract and sparse, at times melodic and deliberate. The live aspect of Wyse’s measured control of the instrument elevates the already beloved tracks even higher as they soar above the previously traveled memory lane, this time with a true breath of fresh air. If you want more reworks, be sure to check out recently released 16-track compilation, titled 100 Minutes, featuring remixes by Benoît Pioulard, The Sight Below, Kane Ikin, Shigeto, Marcus Fischer, Pleq and ten others. This is a must!
Another Fine Label
Through and endless vine of social friends and followers I come upon an album by Tom Green. Now, where have I heard that name before? A quick stroll across the collective knowledge of this age lands me on his Another Fine Day moniker, and I immediately recall his early 90s works, somewhere around the Global Communication, Rising High and em:t days. Indeed, in the early days of ambient electronica, Green has contributed a fair amount of co-writing for The Orb – remember The Orb’s Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld (Big Life, 1991)? But all of that has slowly faded in the past, while Green evolved to producing serene ambient and modern classical pieces for his very own Another Fine Label. On Low Tide, subtitled Cinematic Archive 1, sparse piano notes drop upon a textured field of synth pads, crashing waves, and tranquil atmospherics. “Originally set against visuals ranging from the desert, to an empty room, to the cold of the tundra, to an English beach, low tide, [and] evening” the selections on Low Tide were written for film and television during 2000-2012. The sounds are soothing, wrapped in a fuzzy blanket of reverb, atonal warmth and blooming lavender. One can not help but drift between the thoughts within, while consciously remain percipient without. Tom Green seems to embrace this qualitative state, and titles his other albums as Music for Tai Chi (2012) and Music for MRI Scanners (2007). Definitely recommended.