Tag Archives: Modern composition

Masayoshi Fujita – Stories (2012)

Masayoshi Fujita - Stories (2012)

It’s always exciting to find a style of music that I haven’t heard before, it reminds me why I undertake such “auralnautical explorations”, and part of the reason behind my starting this blog in the first place.

Here, we find ourselves listening to solo vibraphonist Masayoshi Fujita, Japanese, but based in Berlin.

The vibraphone has a beautiful timbre, with a fantastic ringing resonance upon each note, which gives one the sensation of dreaming.

Here, Fujita guides us through eight Stories told to us through modern ambient composition by his excellent playing. Each track has an evocative texture bringing to life the Stories that he tells. Story Of A Waterfall I. & II. actually sounds like the flowing of water over rocks, and as one could stare at a waterfall, mesmerised by the tracks of the descending water, one could also listen to this track and do the same. Snow Storm is similar, flakes flutter and fall, and we are powerless but to be enveloped by the storm as it approaches, gently at first, but quickly overwhelming.

Stories is a mesmerising and delicately enchanting album.

Favourite tracks: Snow Storm, Story Of A Waterfall I. & II., Memories Of The Wind.

Spotify link: Masayoshi Fujita – Stories
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The Bell Laboratory & Pantha du Prince – Elements of Light (2013)

Pantha du Prince and The Bell Laboratory - Elements of Light (2012)

I have to admit, I was a little perplexed when I started listening to this. I thought Pantha du Prince would be a dub artist from the Caribbean and I thought The Bell Laboratory referred to Alexander Graham Bell’s Volta Laboratory, known for its early phonographic experiments and recordings. I must admit, I did look forward to what this unusual combination would bring, but was shocked when I started listening and then read about them.

Pantha du Prince is actually the assumed name of German minimal techno producer Hendrik Weber, and The Bell Laboratory are a Norwegian percussion four-piece. The album also features a 50-bell instrument called the carillon, usually found in the bell tower of a church and played on a keyboard of sorts.

With the ringing cadences of the bells, I am reminded of John Cage’s percussive works for prepared piano (1958-1967), especially on the two tracks which bookend the album, Wave and Quantum. At other times, I am reminded of Pierre Henry’s musique concrète experiments, especially the  well-known Psyché Rock (1967; later reworked as the Futurama title track), or parts of Variations Pour Une Porte Et Un Soupir (1963). However, while Henry was something of a music futurologist, I doubt he envisaged the electronic music revolution that he was a part of creating.

Despite my likening to Cage and Henry, this album sounds like those 60s auditory experiments only in passing, the beats making it more modern sounding. The five-track album is designed to listened as a single piece of five movements. The two main tracks, Particle and Spectral Split are surrounded by an intro, transition and outro. It begins with bells and other percussion, with the beats only coming in around 4 minutes into the second piece; to begin with, the bells create a trance-inducing peaceful drone-like canvas, and Weber’s beats act to break this reverie, subtly at first. Weber has sought to incorporate different sounds into electronic music and has certainly succeeded, and we are talking true incorporation, not some musical découpage; the bells and percussion certainly don’t play second fiddle to Weber’s beats.

I very much liked this album, both for its inventiveness and outcome. There is a lot going for it and, although techno is a get-up-and-go music, designed for dancing, Elements of Light is an album for any time of day or night, the interplay of beats and reverie is fantastic. This could well be a modern classic.

Favourite tracks: Particle, Spectral Split, Quantum.

Spotify link: Pantha Du Prince & The Bell Laboratory – Elements of Light
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Poppy Ackroyd – Escapement (2012)

Poppy Ackroyd - Escapement (2012)

The interplay of music and film is one I have discussed before. Sometimes music is designed to be listened alongside moving images and other times, as here, it is evocative enough to generate its own images. Some music has that “soundtrack feel”.

Escapement is certainly one of those soundtrack-esque albums.

Poppy Ackroyd is an Edinburgh-based pianist, violinist and composer and Escapement is her debut solo album; though she has worked with many others, notably The Hidden Orchestra. She is classically trained in both the piano and the violin, though has an experimental approach to composition. All the sounds on this album are generated using the two instruments, through the use of not only standard means of playing, but also through hitting/tapping, e-bows, plucking, scraping,etc. All the tracks are multitracked with Ackroyd as the sole performer.

The overall result is one that is ethereal and beautiful, evocative and peaceful. On first listen, one might only take in a superficial part of the album; to do so would be to miss the delicate beauty of this album. There is a great deal to listen to, but it is woven together so expertly that only close listening will allow you to unpick the individual elements; a worthwhile endeavour, I assure you.

Favourite tracks: Aliquot, Seven, Mechanism

Spotify link: Poppy Ackroyd – Escapement
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