NEW MUSIC: Tom Ashbrook – Oaktrees

Ambient and (neo)classical compositions can often tread a fine line, evaporating into the ethereal realm or overstating their grandeur. Both extremes lack the required balance of satiating the heart and the mind. In the hands of auteurs such as Nils Frahm, Brian Eno and Harold Budd, music of this ilk can blossom and sway with the most subtle of transitions and adjustments – and it’s those qualities we’re always looking for when we’re hunting out new artists and compositions.

Tom Ashbrook, a British composer, fulfils and exceeds the criteria on this new track ‘Oaktrees’, the third single released from his new EP Sensibus. You can hear the mechanics of his playing and the surrounding sonic detritus in the air. Soft synth pads widen the textural qualities of the piece and summon both the immersive sensation of being underwater and in space. Drift and a poetic sense of flotation being the common factor.

NEW MUSIC: Harrison & Dunkley – In CD

‘In CD’ is a collaborative release from UK duo Stuart Harrison and Peter Dunkley who have played in post-punk bands together in the past but more recently reconvened to explore intstrumental minimalism in the vein of Phillip Glass and Steve Reich.

‘In CD’ is a piece in two parts. The first section is built around keys and guitar circling, looping and overlapping as they build up a hypnotic pulsing post-rock sound. At the track’s mid-point the mood changes, while some of the central repeating motifs still drive the piece along, albeit with a more subdued and reflective tone.

Says Stuart Harrison: “We don’t think that In CD sounds anything like In C – but we took some of the compositional elements, and in particular how Riley instructs ensembles to play his piece, as ‘inspiration’ as we constructed our music. We compose through a process of continual improvisation without necessarily having a defined outcome or even a structure, which tends to take us into unexpected. We’re constantly surprised at what we produce! With this piece, however, we took certain motifs and played them in slightly different ways on different instruments, particularly in the second section.”

Says Peter Dunkley: “Actually, it should have been ‘In DC’ as the first part is in D and the second C. We thought In CD was funnier, though!” 

Check out their profile on Spotify for a bunch of other new compositions.

NEW MUSIC: Tallinn – At The Freeport

Liquid bass, stuttering heartbeat rhythms and melodies that fold in and out of the mix, overlapping dancing with free-spirited interplay. These are the hallmarks of Tallinn’s track ‘At The Freeport’, an art-pop song that inhabits a beautiful sonic space.

The song comes from Varieties Of Exile II, the second in a series of EPs from the New York-based experimental pop project of Scott Whittaker.

NEW MUSIC: PC Nackt – Space_Schubert

What starts out sounding playful and tentative, quickly blossoms into something deeper and resonant on ‘Space_Schubert‘, a new track from an album that features an impressive array of contributors.

Plunderphonia is a new series of musical projects that create original music by “plundering” unexpected historical sources and genre blueprints. Developed by !K7 founder Horst Weidenmüller, the debut Plunderphonia album has been recorded by Grammy nominated artist PC Nackt – collaborator with Apparat and José González and creative head of The String Theory and Warren Suicide.

Continuing a theme explored in Henrik Schwarz’s 2018 Plunderphonia concert, which re- appropriated 700 string sequences, PC Nackt’s new album re-uses classical piano compositions that have been selected by music supervisor Hania Rani. The piano scores have then been played into MIDI by pianist Antonis Anissegos. And the MIDI Files have been “plunderized” (processed and played live) by PC Nackt through two Yamaha Disklaviers (MIDI operated classical pianos), creating compositions that take classical music into unexplored territory.

“It started in 2015”, says Weidenmüller. “A string arranger on !K7 had been writing highly emotional music and I was amazed by its intensity.” He decided to launch a sub-label, 7K!, to explore new classical and undefined music. “And from that moment I wanted to mirror the DJ Kicks series on the new label.”

The inaugural Plunderphonia album release from PC Nackt is set for release this Friday, June 26th release date on 7K!.

NEW MUSIC: Rhian Sheehan – Still

New Zealand composer Rhian Sheehan has recently released a new album, Recollections, Vol. 1, which features a number of new tracks, and a number of tracks performed as part of his 2018 A Quiet Divide Album Release Tour.

Still‘ is a beautifully percussive and textured track that peppers an undulating piano line with clickety-clack rhythms that conjures everything from a ticking clock to a typewriter, or even metronomic footsteps. There’s a gentle lulling quality to the track for the first few minutes before tension is added using the same shapes but with greater push and a deeper synthetic swell.

Elsewhere on the album there are deeper electronic synth excursions, ambient and drone compositions and grand post-rock soundscapes.

Recollections, Vol. 1 is out now on Loop Recordings Aot(ear)oa.

NEW MUSIC: Telemachus – I Am Delicious And Cute. So I Will Go Buy Again

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There’s some incredible sound design and programming going on in this track from South London-raised, producer Telemachus. His new album Boring & Weird Historical Music came out on 22nd May via High Focus Records and this is just one example of the splendid way he pulls different genres together while still allowing a glorious vacuum of space to exist around and within his music.

As he himself puts it: ‘the album certainly rewards a thorough and engrossed listen, but equally the general atmosphere is pleasant enough to play for your auntie when she comes for tea.’

Telemachus came up via the UK hip hop scene but was equally attracted to the sounds of grime, jungle, jazz, soundtracks and trip hop. Here he filters and distils them all into one trance-inducing collection of songs that sound both tribal and born from dark urban streets. Sounds hang suspended or cosmically drip from the speakers in a mist of digital drizzle and organic contact points. Jazz guitar and bass riffs pop up like funk meerkats before being subsumed back into the slow swirling miasma.

NEW MUSIC: Chris Child & Micah Frank – Static Wheels

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US composer Chris Child & sound artist Micah Frank have recently released their second collection of songs – Tape Pieces Vol. 2, featuring this fine track, ‘Static Wheels’. Experimental post-rock and ambient drone are at the core of it, generated by the heavy use of filtering with effects so the loops blur together and bear just an echo of resemblance to its original. The ebb and flow of the track makes for a wonderfully immersive listening experience with David Lynch/Den Hurley elements in its atmospheric mood.

Tape Pieces Vol. 2 was created with TASCAM 4-Tracks, the two recorded layers of short tape loops using a few vintage synths and a Rhodes. The loops were further disseminated into drones though an array of guitar pedals. Field recordings from Portland’s coasts were subtly woven in, providing a tactile sense of place which inspired the moods of these pieces.