You can’t predict the weather. Sometimes, life throws something at you. When it does – not if but when – hopes and expectations lie like shattered spokes. Is it fate, destiny, or circumstance? No one knows, but paths can change when there’s a sudden shift in the weather, and something that once seemed so sure and stable starts to become the opposite: uncertain and unfair. Promises peter out as a drop of rain appears. You have to stop and change course. A natural disaster plunges normality into desolation, and the same is true of our longed-for futures which so often disappear into the ether. Disappointment ensures: inclement weather. You can’t prepare for it; the hurricane warning arrived too late. Steven Kemner recently went through such a change:
“I needed to move away from everything that I loved to a place I had no desire to go. This change complicated music, life and a sense of belonging”. – Steven Kemner
Like the changing of the weather, ironclad clouds can appear from out of nowhere, eclipsing the sun with blackened totality, and the deep, roiling textures within the music of Gradation Movements are full of rain and turmoil, of leaving and moving on. The slow swells and hard-fought movements are indicative of clouded spells which obdurately block out the blue hope of the sky like a cruel shield.
Coated in sleek silver, the notes shadow the steps of the people below. Rainy season stalks the soul; it doesn’t seem to matter where the notes walk, because the cloud always follows, indiscriminate with its downpours of rain and its trident spears of lightning. Rainfall is needed in order to grow, and that includes us. The rainy spells can make us stronger, helping us to rise up in troubling times…but too much of it, and we drown. The cirrus patterns and the cycling of the wind may be hard to understand – we may never understand – but they still have a purpose. The purpose may seem obscure, but it’s there. There’s a strong energy at work within them, and troubled times often reveal things that, in hindsight, we later come to appreciate. When sunlight fails, the music’s tones lie hidden in a shroud of slow mist. The clouds don’t always disperse. You can’t predict the future – you just have to roll with it until you finally come to terms with the strange weather.
This one is an absolute beauty and possibly our favourite design of the year: Two tone / 4 panel hand made letter-pressed Somerset cotton covers, glass mastered CD, 15 x U.S Department Of Agriculture weather maps printed on luxury 250gsm card (size A6), 5 x William Blackwood & Sons Meteorology charts printed on luxury 250gsm card (size A7), insert from ‘The Weather’ by George Kimble / Raymond Bush (Circa 1943), sandalwood scent. All of the above rests inside stitched / sealed glassine bags, individually hand numbered on letter-pressed tags.
This 44 minute piece may structurally resemble a classical composition – divided as it is into several interlocking stanzas – but it’s difficult to place it comfortably within the realm of modern music. If anything, ‘The Rest….’ evokes the otherwordly, fantastical obsessions of the Victorians (Conan Doyle, Lear, Grandville, Wellcome, etc) through means of meticulously manipulated instrumentation, samples and voice.Plinth, of course, is no stranger to Victoriana.
I first came across Marihiko Hara’s work in 2007, with his ‘Cesura’ release on the excellent Italian net-label – Zymogen. It really drew me in more than most other work that was doing the rounds at the same time. It had the sort of organic details and attention to beautiful subtle developments that I had only really heard in offthesky and Nicolas Bernier before (both label mates on Zymogen I should add). It became my soundtrack to that year and an album I returned to almost daily during the winter months. After this I followed Marihiko’s work carefully, from his rather fantastic 2009 ‘Icon’ release on Cotton Goods to his recent ‘Prosa’ collaboration with Tomas Phillips on Tench Records.
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