Marcus Fjellström

Epilogue -M-
Aagoo / Rev Lab
Every time I play Epilogue -M-, I can’t help but flashback to that Sunday night in Berlin, when in a warm and cozy space that is occupied by Erik K. Skodvin and Monique Recknagel (aka Miasmah/Sonic Pieces headquarters), I first witnessed a live audio/visual performance by Marcus Fjellström himself. During the night, Fjellström manipulated a series of sounds into the beautiful and haunting soundtrack for the story unfolding on the screen. Perhaps the entire video would be published as a separate release one day, but from my recollection the music from that night and the one on this EP is very similar in tone; and if I close my eyes, I’m back inside that hazy dream again. The spooky textures create suspenseful atmospheres, paired with the eerie lo-fi ghostly shuffling, creaking background field recordings and uneasy rhythms. The six pieces are described as “claustrophobic sounds in interstellar beauty,” examining the “sinister parallel universe of oppressive and frightened sounds with particularly harrowing and tense undertones.” But don’t be scared diving into Fjellström’s unique sound. Although you may want to leave the lights on, there’s an inner beauty in the construction of the “cold thin space” explored within. The release is the first entry in Aagoo Records / Rev Laboratories series which combines print media with sound. The visual part of the EP was designed by graphic artist Bas Mantel, who has interpreted the compositions into the “graphic interstellar maps“, which have been used for album artwork and two double-sided 24-inch posters. Really love this one!

Rudi Arapahoe
Double Bind
You remember Rudi Arapahoe, right? Back in 2008, Arapahoe released his debut, titled Echoes From One To Another, on a now sadly defunct Japanese Symbolic Interaction label. When the album came out, I described Arapahoe’s sound as “spellbinding soundscapes that accompany my daydreams into a world of magical realism.” It’s been five years since the release – I still play the album and on occasion a piano piece for which Arapahoe has sent me sheet music. And it looks like this UK composer is back, this time with a self-released five-track digital EP, called Double Bind. Also composed “in the murky year that was 2008”, Arapahoe returns with a set of short sketches which appear to be even bleaker than the initial release. There are still spectral vocals by Kaithlin Howard and shadowy shufflings of phantoms and ghosts, awakened by Danny Norbury on his cello. And just as its predecessor, Double Bind is a “strange and beautiful tale, voiced across the windswept plains and forests of purgatory.” The music gently sways and at times stays still, like the dusty curtains in the humid summer. The entire EP creates a stifling and muggy atmosphere until the piano hammers break out through the smother and rain upon the thirsty strings. The rhythm picks up the tension, and now it’s pouring buckets of sorrow and angst. On the last piece, titled ‘Endgames‘, Arapahoe explores abstract keys and chords which at once remind me of Ryuichi Sakamoto‘s celebrated work. Pick up Double Bind from all your digital retailers, and don’t forget to drop the debut LP into your basket as well!

Matthew Collings
After his successful album debut, titled Splintered Instruments, which only came out earlier this year on Fluid Audio (2013), Matthew Collings is back with a six-part EP, titled Elysia. The music on the EP continues to build on Collings’ exploration in “crashing guitars meeting rhythmic processes, mediated by systems of compression and amplification.” Initially influenced by his work with Ben Frost, Collings begins to really distance himself from this particular association [not that he’s actively attempting to do so] by developing a unique sound based on the techniques perfected during his live shows. Elysia is a result of such performances, where with his electric guitar Collings controls the sound sent through side-chained compressors and effects. The result is a massively driven effort, turning the performance into a very physical experience, precisely as orchestrated and designed. The recording perfectly captures the energy of the piece, as the sound struggles to tear through the wall of tension, ripping up its safe haven, and then diving into abyss. The music rumbles, grumbles and groans, scraping its nails on the chalk board of throes. Caged, tortured and faint, it finally frees itself from the domain of laptop dominated shows, and soars above the tiny glowing logos in candor, impulse and contempt. Here is where the breath of music is alive, revealing its presence with the dampness on your skin, the slightly raised hairs, and the pounding heart. And this is pricesely why I love Collings’ work. It’s simply music that makes you feel. The rest is noise. Highly recommended!

Nils Frahm
Juno Reworked
Erased Tapes
In 2011 Nils Frahm released a limited edition 7″ vinyl and digital download titled Juno. The two pieces on the record were captured live in a single night on an analogue synthesizer (which is where the EP got its name from), and since it was Peter Broderick‘s idea in the first place, the tracks were appropriately titled “For” and “Peter”. Those lucky enough to witness an unforgettable Nils Frahm performance will attest to his ability, audacity and authority of both, the piano and the synth, yet apply a distinct discipline to each instrument, which gives one a slightly different feel. The warmth of the synth chords develops smoother curves, reducing the waveform’s sharp edges, while still maintaining an unpredictable unfolding through a stream of voltage controlled oscillators inside its gorgeous dark-green circuitry. The same two pieces show up on this release again – titled Juno Reworked, these originals are accompanied by two remixes. We’ve got a Luke Abbott rework, which throws a few plopping rhythms, low rumbling undertones and sweeping cutoff filters into the mix. The track takes its time to develop only to finally blossom into that boards-of-canada-esque feel-good canter. Another remix comes courtesy of Clark (yes, the same Chris Clark from Warp Records). Known for his use of analogue gear, Clark drops in with a few of his staple production techniques, busy in the foreground with glitchy rhythms, and glowing in the background with pads. As with the original EP, this record is released by the beloved Erased Tapes, this time on a 12″ vinyl and digital download.