by Dave Maier
Podcast time! Eilean is one of my very favorite ambient labels, so I felt a retrospective would be in order. The project is finished, alas, but you can still pick up the entire series of 100 releases for a shockingly low price. Don’t be put off by unfamiliar names here, this is some great stuff. More to come!
Since many of these names were unfamiliar to me as well, I don’t have a whole lot to add, so I’ll be quoting quite a bit from the relevant webpages. Follow the links for more!
Widget below. Here’s the direct link if you can’t wait (or if the widget is cranky): https://www.mixcloud.com/duckrabbit/stars-end-annex-special-edition-eilean-records-part-1/
Xu – It’s Been More Than That / Whisper My World
This name actually was familiar to me, and we’ve heard him already in another mix (not an Eilean release though). I see here that Nicola uses Samplr and Borderland Granular on his iPad, which are amazing apps, and like most iPad music apps, ridiculously inexpensive, so go pick them up if you haven’t.
Xu is the solo project from Nicola Fornasari, an italian musician and composer born in 1977. He’s also part of the following bands: La Petite Vague, Xu(e), Twyxu, Zero Wait enSemble. He presents today his fifth album under the moniker Xu, and for the second time on Eilean Rec. His works have been released on Audio Gourmet, Cathedral Transmissions, Eilean, Flaming Pines, Many Feet Under, Twice Removed and more.
Nicola Fornasari: music boxes, singing bowls, piano, arturia minibrute, casio toy keyboard, fx and looper pedals, monotron delay, samplr and borderland granular on ipad, custom built pure data patch, tape recorders, tape heads, contact mics, field recordings, processing
Darren Harper: guitar, fx pedals, mutable instruments clouds [not on our track though, I don’t think]
Bamboo Stilts – Seachest / Beneath the Bark
Rooted in friendship and a shared love of experimental sound, Bamboo Stilts is a long time in the making… Tui ( Orla Wren ) and Leigh Toro (Flotel) have been sharing cassettes and minidiscs for two decades and have long talked of making a record together one day. After having both release their debut albums on the influential London label Expanding Records and then subsequent releases on many labels including, Arable, Cactus Island, Flau, Air Texture, Chemical Tapes and Home Normal amongst others, Tui and Leigh sat down in their respective studios in 2012 and started sending sounds and ideas back and forth, in a very short while the debut album Beneath The Bark was completed.
Orla Wren : critter & guitari pocket piano, ciat lonbarde tetrazzi organ, pipe organ, sony pcm-d50, line 6 dl4, acoustic guitar, music box, indian shruti box, korg monotron, flute, whistle, singing bowl, contact mic, bugbrand weevil, processing and software.
Leigh Toro : ekdahl moisturizer, 4ms bass line generator, ciat lonbarde tetrazzi organ, squarewave parade teaspoon, frost wave alienator, electro harmonix delay with hazari and ring modulator, bugbrand weevil, novation k station, concrete dog matrix mixer, 4ms nocto loco, zoom h4, cold gold contact microphone, apple ipad, acoustic guitar, piano, cello, chimes, singing bowl, various percussion items and software.
Lee Chapman – Prunus Padus / The Common Silence
I should also note that for a number of these releases, the track I have chosen is the most ambient one, or at least the one that fit best in the set. In some cases that means the rest of the record may be quite different, so be warned. Of course that doesn’t mean the rest of the record is any less than excellent.
Lee Chapman is a a self taught composer and musician from Burnley, UK. He uses live manipulations of instruments, loops and effects to create delicate, dense and dynamic atmospheres from minimal instrumentation. After some various Ep & collaborations, working in the fields of ethereal, organic and accidental compositions, using analog, tapes as well digital process, he presents on Eilean Rec. his first complete Lp.
« The album starts and ends with the beauty of the album’s dedicated, book-ending the murkiness and darkness in my mind and my continuing realisation of this. The track “A Wish For Common Silence” was written back in 2013 and little did I know how much of a sense it would mean in 2014/2015 and therefore a self-fulfilling prophecy, a full circle towards “A Wish For Common Silence” in both a metaphorical and literal sense. ».
The Common Silence is dedicated to Ieva Balode.
Andrew Tasselmyer – Peripheral Visions / Surface Textures
“Surface Textures” is the fourth solo album by Andrew Tasselmyer and was created with field recordings captured in Japan, China, Europe, and the USA from August 2017 to May 2018. The album is a soundtrack to specific, ordinary experiences that somehow became permanently lodged in my memory of those places. It is an album focused on painting a picture of unnoticed corners of the world, and a reminder that sometimes, the greatest satisfaction is found by looking past the immediate and into the peripheral textures of a place.
See also www.andrewtasselmyer.com and andrewtasselmyer.bandcamp.com .
dramavinile – Silfra X / Silfra
For this one I can definitely recommend the entire record, as well as others available on his own page. Great guitarscapes, sometimes gritty and abstract.
Since 2016, dramavinile (Vincenzo Nava) attempts to match and combine lo-fi, electroacoustic, field recordings and abstract ambient.
His fourth release since 2016, “Silfra”, is the name of a fissure between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates in Thingvellir National Park. The rift was formed in 1789 by the earthquakes accompanying the divergent movement of the two tectonic plates.
The water is filtered through porous underground lava for 30-100 years before reaching the spring that feeds into Silfra. The water is therefore extremely pure by the time it reaches the north end of Thingvellir lake and it allows for underwater visibility of over 100 meters in Silfra. The glacial meltwater remains very cold in Silfra, but as fresh water is constantly filling the fissure, the water never freezes and remains 2°C – 4°C year round.
Silfra is said to have the clearest water in the world.
recorded with a 4 tracks tape recorder and a guitar using the cut-up.
Banabila & Machinefabriek – Night Scenes / Entropia
This one‘s pretty out there. Good though.
Michel Banabila and Rutger Zuydervelt (aka Machinefabriek) have been collaborating since 2012. Although they both reside in Rotterdam, they (besides coming together for coffee) prefer to use the old file-swap-way of working. With each album, sounds and song drafts are frantically sent back and forth, in a short but super intense timespan of a week or two. This spontaneity is clearly audible throughout their music, with each album having its own distinct character.
After the tight, post fourth world of ‘Macrocosms’, their fifth album ‘Entropia’ veers into much rougher terrain, adding distorted field recordings, bursting noise, nasty jump cuts and an overal sense of chaotic abstraction to the mix. ‘Entropia’ is definitely one of their more challenging efforts, an adventurous yet coherent sonic journey.
Machinefabriek is the alias of Rutger Zuydervelt. His music combines elements of ambient, noise, minimalism, drone, field recordings and electro-acoustic experiments. He issued albums on various renowned labels such as Staalplaat, 12k, Important, Glistening Examples, SOFA music and Miasmah.
Besides making albums and performing live, Rutger also composes music for films and dance performances.
Michel Banabila is a sound artist & composer and has produced music for films, documentaries, theatre plays and dance. His work varies from minimal loop-based electronica, fourth world, and neoclassical pieces, to drones, experimental electronica, tribal ambient, and tape music. His work has been released internationally by labels like Bureau B (DE) and Séance Centre (CA).
Monolyth & Cobalt – Wirbel / The Dunen Diaries
Here’s another one with an ampersand, but it’s just one guy. I’m sorry, but that’s totally confusing. I’ve heard some of his other work, which is also good.
Monolyth & Cobalt is the solo project from the french music artist Mathias Van Eecloo, born in 1977, a self-taught musician & multi-instrumentalist since 2008. His first album has been edited on Kesh Recordings in 2010. Since, he has been released on Audio gourmet, Twice Removed Records, Time Released Sounds, Unknown Tone Records and some other labels. He’s behind the Clyde Parker Project, a featuring project with 100 artists from 25 countries recorded between 2009 and 2011.
Over the years he has collaborated with some artists such as Aaron Martin, Birds Of Passage, Danny Norbury, Christopher Hipgrave, Hannu, Helena Espvall, Isnaj Dui, Mark Ostermeier, Madeleine Cocolas, Offthesky, Orla Wren and more.
Composed, played, mixed and recorded between December 2013 and January 2017, in Brittany, France. All instruments, sounds, field recordings by Monolyth & Cobalt except voice sample in Heimat.
Michael Cutting – Seeking Safe Harbour / Luft
Again, be advised: as I recall, this track is fairly atypical. Some wild stuff here.
LUFT is the second solo release of Salford-based tape musician Michael Cutting. Continuing his experiments with reel-to-reel recorders, LUFT revels in the imperfections of degrading tape, faltering machines and roughly spliced loops to conjure an intimate yet visceral sonic landscape peppered with tape flutter, crackles and unsteady self-replications. At the centre is the dusty wheezing of a 19th Century organ, with the clicking of its rusty bellows providing much of the music’s rhythmic impetus while its piercing reeds underpin a gently microtonal harmonic language. Complemented at different times by an e-bowed violin, fender rhodes, clarinet, trumpet, sine tone generator and voice, the album’s seven tracks evoke a quiet, imagined journey, a journey both personal and geographical.
All music recorded and performed by Michael Cutting, with the exception of the clarinet in Seeking Safe Harbour, performed by Robbie Gardiner, and the voice in Seeking Safe Harbour, performed by Vitalija Glovackyte.
See also www.michaelcutting.co.uk and michaelcutting.bandcamp.com/music .
Sublamp – Lianas
This one is also excellent and diverse. I had trouble choosing the right track. Ours gets a little gritty toward the end, but I like it. See also www.sublamp.com.
Sublamp is an experimental music project by Los Angeles based sound and video artist, Ryan Connor. Primarily interested in pre-language experience, he uses textural sound and images to explore an intuitive and emotional response to sensory data. His work has been published by Serac (USA), Pehr (USA), SEM (France), Dragon’s Eye Recordings (USA), Friendly Virus (Portugal), Ahora Eterno (Argentina) Hibernate Recordings (UK) and Felt.
Every Sublamp record has been about an imaginary space, so the concept of pinning each release on Eilean to a fictional continent was exciting; the perfect excuse to indulge myself in layered textural sound again. Inspired by the cloud forests of Monteverde, Costa Rica, Lianas is an audio map of a densely wooded mountain range, shrouded in fog, where fern and vine drip with condensation and small animals slip quietly through the undergrowth. Very little computer manipulation was used in the creation of these tracks. Most of the sound on the record is simply looped guitar through various pedals and a nice warm tube amp, sometimes recorded through an old reel to reel tape machine for extra crackle and hiss.
Knivtid – Svag / Försiktig
Here I had trouble finding a track that fit, although again the album is very good. He’s also got a tempting complete-works offer at his own page.
Knivtid is the solo project of the Swedish composer Daniel Andersson. This is his first ever CD release. “Försiktig” consisting of songs composed during 2018 and 2019. Daniel works with multiple different techniques and instruments, but always with a love for basic wave forms, sampling and looping, mainly in some improvisations.
Daniel has previously released tapes under the Knivtid moniker on ACR and Purlieau Recordings as well as a self-released digital album.
Bill Seaman – Ending (Part 1) / f (noir) [image above]
Another fine collection to finish us off (for now). Some really drifty material on this one. Since the following copy was written Bill has collaborated with offthesky on an equally immersive piece which we may hear as well sometime.
Bill Seaman’s music often combines his own structured piano improvisations, composed selections of samples, as well as elaborate computational and analogue abstractions. As a media theorist, he is interested in notions of intelligent systems and computational creativity. His recent collaborations include Light Folds – The Seaman and the Tattered Sail with Craig Tattersall (Facture) – The Humble Bee , The Boats; Minor Distance with Daniel Howe (Cotton Goods); and s_straits with John Supko (Cotton Goods). He has been active as a media artist, making the soundtracks to all of his works historically.
Bill Seaman — Piano, Assorted Samples, Composition of Samples
Marissa Katarina Bergmann — Featured Vocals (sample recording) / Piano on track 6 (sample recording)
Craig Tattersall — Synth Bass and Tape Work (sample recording)
Robert Ellis-Geiger — Trumpet (sample recording)
Ciompi Quartet — (sample recording)
Eric Pritchard / Hsiao-mei Ku (violins)
Jonathan Bagg (violin and viola)
Fred Raimi (cello)
That’s all for now, but there will be more coming. I still haven’t heard all 100 releases!