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    Taylor Deupree – Somi

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    The release comes packaged as a deluxe CD inside a 20-page hardbound book of Deupree’s photographs that inspired the creation of the music... For the music, made with a small number of instruments (electric piano, glockenspiel, DX7, handheld cassette recorder) Deupree originally set out to create a follow-up to his classic album Stil.. Steeped in subtle repetition and soft electronic sound, Stil. explored themes of time and change. However, Stil. was created with purely electronic means - software synthesizers and looping algorithms which explored the then-novel frontier of DSP based “microsound.” With a strong desire to bring the aesthetics of Stil. to his current way of working Deupree used no software or automatic looping, instead opting for the imperfections of creating “loops” by hand. The result is warm and quietly decayed work of spare, discreet tones and dozens of interwoven slow polyrhythms that create repetitions that constantly fall apart and shuffle themselves back together. While these ideas of phase relationships are not new in music, nor to Deupree’s catalogue of work, it was the way he approached the composing that was different, and more challenging, than his work in the past. Wrapped up warmly in the sonics of cassette players and cheap built-in speakers, Somi’s dusty melodies sit quietly, but uneasily, and question the passing of time and present one of Deupree’s most alluring albums to date.
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    Gareth Dickson – Orwell Court

    Gareth Dickson is ghostlike. From the dark outskirts of Glasgow he has sent three studio studio albums in to the world - Collected Recordings (2009), The Dance (2010) and Quite A Way Away (2012). These albums have bewitched a growing inner circle, including some of the most innovative musicians around today - Juana Molina and Vashti Bunyan to name just two. Gareth has been the only constant member of Vashti’s touring outfit over the past ten years and latterly they have stripped down to a duet on their worldwide travels. Vashti indeed makes a spectral apparition on the first track of Gareth’s new album Orwell Court. Gareth Dickson’s music is both beautiful and dark. A quiet Scottish melancholy underpinned by a grace and ethereal purity paired with a unique impression where the delicacy of Nick Drake mixes with the openness and space Brian Eno. Gareth’s music is often stripped down to the spare elements of voice and acoustic guitar, but a complex and mysterious music hides beneath the surface, demanding but generous and surprising. Clearly picking up where his previous albums left off, Gareth throws in a few surprises. Gleaned from his time spent touring and experimenting between albums the addition of a drum kit, some keyboards and guest vocalists enrich the palette. But fear not, these elements, while previously unheard of in his music, are approached with the subtlety that his listeners expect. They are a texture that adds dimension throughout the album. The hush is still there in its most genuine form.
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    Vitiello / Berg – Between You And The Shapes You Take

    Between You And The Shapes You Take is the second collaborative album by Richmond based musician/sound artists Stephen Vitiello and Molly Berg. As with the duo’s previous release, The Gorilla Variations (12k2013, 2009), tracks are created out of improvisations and sculpted through editing. Molly Berg’s clarinet and vocalizations tend to cover the CD’s lyrical content while Vitiello’s guitar and processing covers a good deal of the textures. Two of the tracks on the CD feature violin by the multi-talented Hahn Rowe, once a member of the group Hugo Largo. There’s an immediate air of melancholy and longing to a number of the tracks. An initial demo recording for the album was remarked on by a listener who said “I’ve fallen face first into a machine that erases the memories of an ended relationship as if it were a sound instead of a real life that fell in love with the girl again in the end.” A strange amount of truth exists in that statement and the entirety of it was momentarily considered as the album title. Instead, Between You And The Shapes You Take is a borrowed quote from Wallace Stevens’ poem The Blue Guitar.
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    Illuha – Interstices

    Start with a room, a cleanish one, not too rustic, not too slick, and then fill it with tools, fill it with anything that can be used to make other things. Put the room in the forest, but not too deeply in, let’s have the city on the distant horizon. Then, let’s have two craftsman, artists, explorers. Tell them a bit about where the room is, but not exactly. Make them find it, together. When they finally do they will embark on their creations, but it won’t be the immerse-and-shut-yourself-off-from-the-world type of creation. To them, creation involves talking, travelling, experiencing, not just working. They are Illuha and this hints at how they operate. They are true musicians and artisans with a slew of talents that become all twisted and morphed when combined. On their 2011 debut, Shizuku, their room was a century-old church in Washington state and their tools; whatever instruments they could haul over from Japan and the pianos they were lucky enough to find inside. As creators they have an obsessive attention to detail but also know that the strength of creation doesn’t always lie merely in the act itself. Illuha knows the power of communication.
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    Illuha – Akari

    Akari is the third album from Tokyo duo Illuha. Following 2011’s debut Shizuku (12k1067) and 2013’s Interstices (12k2028), Akari takes the next artistic step for the band. While Shizuku was recorded in the US and completed separately by the artists, Interstices captured the duo creating their exceptionally detailed music together live during a Japaneses tour. Akari, in turn, is the first studio album where Illuha recorded and mixed together, throughout the entire process. The beautiful st-robo studio in Tokyo put a collection of amazing equipment at their fingertips, from vintage mics and outboard gear to a vast collection of instruments, both acoustic and electronic. Their writing sessions were numerous and long with details meticulously obsessed over for nearly a year. The result is the most bewildering music Illuha have created to date. An album swimming with the most delicately tactile sounds and instrumentation that draws the listener in with hushed, motionless attention.
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    Solo Andata – In The Lens

    In the Lens, Solo Andata’s fourth full-length album, was born from recordings found in the interstices of decades-old hard drives, lost email threads from disused accounts, and forgotten samples recorded on cassette dictaphones. These fragments were combined and re-worked with newer elements to create an album very much in the spirit of the band’s debut Fyris Swan (Hefty Records, 2006), an album touched by both folk and jazz and swathed in a dusty, narcotic haze. Solo Andata’s Kane Ikin and Paul Fiocco have always pushed aside the digital studio in favor of a more haphazard and hands-on workshop vibe to their productions. They prefer near-broken acoustic instruments, cheap microphones and, as can be witnessed by their live performances, tend to turn anything they can get their hands on into a beautiful sound-making object.
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    Federico Durand – A Través Del Espejo

    It’s no accident that Federico’s music has a dusty air of nostalgia surrounding it. It has always been a very personal affair. Songs inspired family, local life and the world around him are woven by hand with a selection of very physical instruments. He works like a craftsman, piecing together fragments of sound from cassette recorders, small instruments and loopers and creates music that’s as softspoken as he is. No pretenses, no disguises, just the most honest and down-to-earth music that can be made. Broken melodies spinning from tape reels, the sounds of bells and small found objects being played with care... The music is as beautiful as it is introspective, like a small window of antique glass looking right into Federico’s soul.
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    Taylor Deupree & Marcus Fischer Twine

    The instrumentation on Twine is simple - electric piano, bells, stringed instruments... With careful and deliberate physical manipulations the sounds is subtlely abstracted, as can be heard on “Buoy,” where the tape machine mechanics themselves join in the recording to create a piece suggestive of the abandoned dock the two photographed in Iceland a couple of years earlier as it quietly knocked against the cold winter shore. Imagery like this abounds through the tracks. Slow, haunting melodies under a layer of warm tape hiss and accidental physical sounds give the listener plenty of room for imagination, reflection and the stirring up of lost memories. The intimacy of the tape loops combined with the lonliness of the sounds gives Twine a complexity beyond its simple form. Deupree and Fischer have created a intensely focused new work that draws upon all of their creative interactions since their 2010 debut.
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    Kane Ikin – Sublunar

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    Sublunar is the first full-length release from Kane Ikin who is also known as one half of the duo Solo Andata. Sublunar follows Kane’s solo debut Contrail (7”, 12k 2012) picking up where that EP left off and pushing the boundaries outward in every direction into denser, deeper, wetter and more decayed terrain. The word “sublunar” can be read to contain many conceptual layers important to the album. It is music about moonlight, darkness, the faintest hint of light and shadow…. Moons locked in orbit, repetition, gravity, weight, pressure… Subconscious, subliminal, distant, deteriorated signals, like radio waves lost in a noisy haze of transmission… and about dust, noise and oversaturation.
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    Stephan Mathieu – Coda

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    The new CD-EP (clocking in at 20 minutes exactly) from Stephan Mathieu is a coda to A Static Place (2011, 12k), created with his highly focused setup of two mechanical-acoustic gramophones and computer. Coda (For WK) is dedicated to the legendary “quiet” pianist Wilhelm Kempff, whose 1927 recordings of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 26 Les Adieux from a double 12” 78RPM set on Brunswick were used as input for an autogenerative process. Mathieu’s process emphasizes the archaic beauty and texture of this early media while using the original tones for the body of this rich extended work that is both hypnotic and grainy; a journey into the essence of sound that can be appreciated on many levels. Mathieu has made this gramophone and computer setup a constant factor for his signature process of late and the work he produces becomes more deep and personalized with each release. The echoes of the past can be heard in these ghostly compositions and Mathieu’s love for not only the process but the original music is clearly seen in his passion for the work.
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    Simon Scott – Below Sea Level

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    Six panel digipak with gorgeous artwork… Below Sea Level is the first 12k release from seasoned musician and electronic sound artist Simon Scott. The inspiration behind Below Sea Level, including its music, title, artwork and photography (see accompanying journal) originally derives from Scott’s desire to musically explore the desolate and controversial environment of the Fens in East Anglia, UK. The memories Scott has of visiting this area as a child make this a poignant and highly personal project that explores nostalgic familiarity with a desire to capture the musicality of the landscape. For two years Scott ventured into this former wetland with hydrophones and self-built recording devices to explore the land that is cartographically below mean sea level, trace the devastating history of this environment caused by the drainage of the land, and arrange it into conceptual musical and visual project. Scott has, in the main, eschewed the guitar backbone of his previous releases, preferring instead to capture the timbres and textures of the landscape to form the basis for the seven tracks. His signature reverberated guitar does still surface, the beginning of the album begins with sparse finger picking reminiscent of Laughing Stock-era Talk Talk, but it only adds brief flickers of colour to the central field recordings throughout the album.
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    Peters / Roden – Not A Leaf Remains As It Was

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    In 1995 Steve Peters and Steve Roden toured as a trio with singer Anna Homler; sometimes they would vocalize behind her, and they liked the way their voices blended together. They then spent about 15 years saying that “someday” they should record a voice-based project together. Aside from the physical distance between them, the problem was always: What would we sing? Neither wanted to write or sing lyrics. Inspiration came in the form of a book of Japanese jisei – poems allegedly written by monks on their death bed – printed in both English translation and Romanized Japanese. Phonetically pronouncing the Japanese reminded Peters of the technique Roden has used of systematically chopping up the syllables in English texts to transform them into sound poems. Since neither of them speaks Japanese, it seemed like a good place to begin. .
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    Small Color – In Light

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    Four years after the release of their debut album Outflow, Japan’s Small Color, a duo comprised of Rie Yoshihara (aka Trico!) (accordion, voice, vintage keyboard instruments) and Yusuke Onishi (guitar, banjo, bass, programming and production) are back with the beautifully polished In Light. This album marks what some may consider a departure for 12k: sublime and gentle, minimal, acoustic J-pop, which once may have been destined for the now-defunct Happy label, but can now sit comfortably beside 12k’s roster of electronic/acoustic ambient hybrids.  
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