The Empire of Silence
Berlin-based Martin Juhls, and his minimalist ambient project as Marsen Jules, have appeared many a time on these pages before. Juhls’ nostalgia drenched pads have been captivating these ears since his Lazy Sunday Funerals on one of the most prominent net-labels in 2003, Autoplate. Six studio albums and ten years later, Juhls appeared on the beloved 12k with The Endless Change Of Colour, a mesmerizing generative composition that seemed to go on forever, with its shimmering layers of boundless sound. The latter was also released as a 24-hour version installment on a USB flash drive, which I now proudly display in my collection. On Empire of Silence, released on his very own Oktaf imprint, Juhls pays tribute to the “epic power and beauty of Nordic snow and ice-landscapes.” The reductionist swells of processed strings flow and ebb over the frozen horizons, covering this landscape with a fog of sound. That is not to say that this particular composition feels cold, bare, or desolate. Instead the pads sound warm enough to melt the most frigid of places, licking the lethargic icebergs with their delicate glow. Folding in his past experimentation with the vast particle-layered “sound-continuum”, each of the eight pieces on the album, titled after a different name for “snow” in the Inuit language, explores a spacious elation of infinite bliss. Be sure to also check out Marsen Jules 2014 release on Dronarivm titled Sinfonietta as well as an archive of the tracks produced during his two-week residence At GRM (2014).
The Inward Circles
Corbel Stone Press
The Inward Circles is a project by Richard Skelton (aka A Broken Consort, Carousell and Clouwbeck) and Belated Movements For An Unsanctioned Exhumation August 1st 1984 is the second release under this moniker, following up on the 2014, Nimrod Is Lost In Orion And Osyris In The Doggestarre, both published on his very own Corbel Stone Press based in Cumbria, northern England. As the title and the ghastly cover image (of what appears to be some human body part) suggest, the theme of this three-piece hour-long composition references the “Lindow Man”, one of preserved bog bodies discovered at Lindow Moss on the date referenced in the title. My physical CD copy features an image that continues into the inside of the gate-folded album case, imploring me to rip it apart for the entire display. Instead I only peek into the darkness to make out the photo of the mummified cadaver. The music is a knot of brooding strings, layered with distortion and reverb to convey the agonizing, grim and eerie feelings immediately evoked by dealing with death, post burial, and finally closure. Throughout the album, Skelton builds damp atmospheres and soggy textures that slowly descend into deeper levels of peat bog, uncovering layers of dead plant and animal matter, hugging the landscape in an eternal cycle of life. With the slow glow of a sulking drone, scratched cello, and dynamically insistent piano keys, Skelton bids the three species of Canis, Lynx and Ursus, to awake, arise and reclaim. Deep, intense and powerful.
Rafael Anton Irisarri
Will Her Heart Burn Anymore
Rafael Anton Irisarri‘s recent experimentation with dynamics, distortion and physicality of sound has landed him in a peculiar state of mind, with torrents of deformed granular noise, blended with angst, grief, and sadness. No doubt attributed to a sort of re-awakening and re-evaluation of one owns life, after Irisarri’s (and his wife’s) belongings, packed for their transition from Seattle to the East Coast in a moving truck, were stolen. In summary, everything was gone, and being left with a blank slate, the couple struggled to gather the last pieces of their material world, and put back together what once defined their very being. Recorded on the last day of 2014 in his newly rebuilt Black Knoll Studio, Irisarri gathered the whirlwind of stormy textures for the last glance back at the past, in a “sort of a cathartic way to put behind a truly rough year and give the one-finger salute to 2014.” The result is at once heart wrenching, full of furious melancholy, and devastatingly beautiful. Perhaps all this heartache drives us to create elegance after all… Released on Room40, Will Her Heart Burn Anymore was limited to only 40 CDs, but you can still grab a digital copy directly from the label. Be sure to revisit RAI’s 2013 epic release titled The Unintentional Sea, out on Room40 as well.
Movement Building Vol. 1
There are, of course, many albums that I want to share with you – if only I had all the time for these words! – but as I was putting this Sound Bytes column together, one particular release from my playlist stood out among the already mentioned here treats. This is a work by Gabriel Saloman, a Vancouver (Canada) based multidisciplinary artist, recording experimental music for nearly two decades, and most notably known for his collaboration with Pete Swanson on Yellow Swans. Previously collaborating with Peter Broderick and [separately] appearing on Miasmah label with Adhere (2012) and Soldier’s Requiem (2013), Saloman built a reputation for beautifully haunting works used mostly for contemporary dance. With Movement Building Vol. 1 Saloman has developed a new series of compositions for Daisy Karen Thompson‘s “Re-Marks on Source Material“, where the music shares that dance’s Foucault influenced “questioning of the limits imposed on our bodies by technology and labor, reaching for an ecstatic escape from discipline and control.” The 35-minute two-part piece features swirling drones and lightly brushed snares that climb and climax through a wall of guitar noise before they crash on the land of silence.
Words by HC