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Lubomyr Melnyk

Fallen Trees

    Erased Tapes present ‘Fallen Trees’ – the new album by singular talent and literal force of nature Lubomyr Melnyk – known as ‘the prophet of the piano’ due to his lifelong devotion to his instrument.

    The album release coincides with Melnyk’s 70th birthday, but despite the autumnal hint in its title, there’s little suggestion of him slowing down. Having received critical acclaim and coheadlining the prestigious Royal Festival Hall as part of the Erased Tapes 10th anniversary celebrations, after many years his audience is now both global and growing. The composer is finally gaining a momentum in his career that matches the vibrant, highly active energy of his playing.

    Cascades of notes, canyons and rivers of sound: there’s something about his music that channels the natural world at its most awe-inspiring. In ‘Fallen Trees’ the connection with the environment continues, taking its cue from a long rail journey Melnyk made through Europe. Glancing out of the window as the train passed through a dark forest, he was struck by the sight of trees that had recently been felled. “They were glorious,” he says. “Even though they’d been killed, they weren’t dead. There was something sorrowful there, but also hopeful.” That sense of sadness touched by optimism infuses the album, too: rarely has Melnyk made music so shot through with melancholy and regret, but which sounds so rapt, even radiant.

    Drawing comparisons with Steve Reich and the post-rock group Godspeed You, Black Emperor!, Pitchfork praised his 2015 album ‘Rivers And Streams’ for it’s “sustained concentration and ecstatic energy”. That energy is present in ‘Fallen Trees’ too, but at points the tone is quieter, the mood darker and more wistful. At points elsewhere on the album, despite being rooted in the wonders of the natural world, there’s a kaleidoscopic quality in the fractal flurry of notes and the broad spectrum of colour they summon.

    Critics have detected the influence of Ravi Shankar and other Indian styles in Melnyk’s music, along with the insistent, repetitive textures of minimalist pioneers such as Steve Reich and Philip Glass. Melnyk himself cites his debt to the American composer Terry Riley, particularly the legendary 1964 work ‘In C’, which he says “opened the world for me”. But he adds that if you listen carefully, you’ll also be able to hear the lilting contours of traditional Ukrainian folk music.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: For those of you that thought modern classical music was all plaintive, slowed-down montage soundtracking (Dave?), Melnyk is here to provide a frenetic but strangely relaxing onslaught of shimmering keys and endlessly expressive pianissising about.

    Daniel Brandt, co-founder of acclaimed German ensemble Brandt Brauer Frick, is set to release his second solo album for London imprint Erased Tapes on October 12th. Titled Channels, the new record follows the release of the London and Berlin based producer’s solo debut Eternal Something from 2017. The seven-track LP is Brandt’s biggest statement yet, with the album’s thrilling avant-garde framework interweaving chord-driven techno, orchestral flourishes, rich electronic textures and hints of dark cinematic pop. Following on from Eternal Something, which captured a contemplative kind of isolationism, with Channels Brandt set out to create an album that captures the essence of minimalism whilst lending it to a more playful context. After performing and recording Steve Reich’s Six Pianos in a group of six, Brandt began regularly composing long meditations on the piano, something that permeates the sound of the new record. Its frenetic energy and shape-shifting identity was also born out of touring with his new band Eternal Something — comprised of Brandt on piano, drums and synthesisers, Pascal Bideau on guitar and bass, plus Florian Juncker on trombone — and a desire to translate both the sound and spiritual unity of their live shows in which musicians locked together to create an intriguing meld of expansive works. Intricate floor-filler and lead track ‘Flamingo’ synthesises the measured pacing of Detroit techno with an orchestral background. As with all of the tracks on Channels, ‘Flamingo’ began life as a sketch with very basic instrumentation, before taking it into the studio to rehearse with his band members, giving the album a live and visceral sound that sets it apart from his debut; “It was a great experience to do it this way as I have always wanted to have the chance to try out something in a live setting before recording it in the studio and not the other way round,” explains Daniel. “The actual typical rock band recording style that I never had the chance to do before.”

    The album’s most immersive, club-ready track ‘Sailboats III’ is built with a vivid and pulsating bass line that takes inspiration from a Lichtenstein painting, as well as the UK bass scene and producers like Tessela and Lord Tusk. The blossoming cosmos of ‘Cherry Dream’ is informed by Tangerine Dream’s iconic soundtrack to the film Risky Business, a compelling reinterpretation of Love On A Real Train replete with darker, electronic elements and live orchestration. ‘Daze’, co-written with guitarist Pascal Bideau, chimes with an acoustic melody and is carried by a rhythmic percussive pulse, whilst the understated ‘Ltd’ was stylistically inspired by Steve Reich’s Electric Counterpoint as well as Daniel and his band’s live improvisations with orchestral collective Stargaze, whose founder and conductor André de Ridder contributed violin on the album. Title track ‘Channels’ melds instrumental ambient with melodramatic embellishments, whilst the record’s closer ‘Twentynine Palms’ takes its name from the vast Californian desert, and was written while Daniel was travelling there, evoking the widescreen and rapturous sound of open space and nature. With Brandt also being skilled as a filmmaker, directing and producing visuals for BBF and Eternal Something, much of the new album’s creative ideas reference a rich visual palette. He directed the video for ‘Flamingo’, a sideways glance at the art world that takes the concept behind John Cage’s 4’33” and turns it on its head. “The video for Flamingo is deliberately non performance — people sitting in a room and watching basically nothing, never really sure if anything is ever going to happen. It’s also a play on John Cage’s 4’33”, except in this instance there isn’t even a performer present.” — Daniel Brandt

    Daniel’s passion for film even prompted him to kick start his own online television channel Strrr.tv in 2017 that since attracted a lot of attention with guest moderators including BBC Radio DJ Gilles Peterson, modular synth legend Suzanne Ciani and Berghain bouncer Sven Marquardt counting amongst the most popular episodes.

    Recorded between Berlin and London, Channels is a deeply enthralling listening experience, which sees Daniel Brandt build upon his distinctive percussive sound whilst exploring new and expansive horizons.

    Ryan Lee West aka Rival Consoles presents his expressive new album ‘Persona’ via Erased Tapes. The title ‘Persona’ was inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s film of the same name, specifically a shot in the opening credits of a child reaching out to touch a woman’s face on a screen, which is shifting between one face and another. This powerful image struck Ryan and it inspired the album’s main theme — an exploration of the persona, the difference between how we see ourselves and how others see us, the spaces in between; between states, people, light and dark, the inner persona and the outer persona. “My music is generally inward looking. I like finding something about the self within music, that doesn't have to be specific but maybe asks something or reveals something. This record is a continuation on the self through electronic sounds. Like Legowelt once said ‘a synthesiser is like a translator for unknown emotions’, which I think sums up what I am trying to do. I think all these emotions we have make up our persona. So in a way by finding new ones you alter or expand your persona. And that is what I want my music to try to do. I deliberately aimed to be more sonically diverse with this record. I wanted to experiment more. I wanted to create new sounds and new emotions.” — Rival Consoles.

    Recorded at his studio in south-east London, ‘Persona’ benefits from Ryan’s exploration of a dynamic production process that combines analogue-heavy synthesisers, acoustic and electric instruments with a shoegaze-level obsession with effect pedals. A greater depth of emotion and confidence can be heard across the album. From the deconstructed movements on ‘Unfolding’ that starts the album with a snap of delayed snares, the apocalyptic drones of the title track and thundering drums in ‘Phantom Grip’ to more restrained ambient feels of ‘Dreamer’s Wake’, ‘Rest’ and ‘Untravel’. The latter transverses six beatless minutes of undulating melodies representing “a limbo space, a feeling of ennui, of not really ever being known to others and others not ever really being known to you”.

    ‘Be Kind’ reveals a musical connection with fellow Erased Tapes artist Nils Frahm, with its minimal approach and improvisational nature. On the more complex sounding ‘I Think So’ Ryan aims to replicate a colour collage with sound. Like a musical kaleidoscope, a flashing and convoluted mass. Written after he saw Slowdive perform live last year, ‘Hidden’ builds from whispers to landscapes of controlled noise. In an interview with XLR8R magazine, Ryan explains: “once you start trying to make a sound loud, then you turn your back on thousands and thousands of sonic possibilities. One of the best things to do is to start a track with a really quiet, weak sound.” Taking this idea to its ultimate conclusion, ‘Fragment’ closes the album as an innocent sounding ambient piece, almost nursery rhyme like, yielding time for reflection on how the persona has changed.

    ‘Persona’ follows the success of a series of releases — the ‘Odyssey’ and ‘Sonne’ EPs, long player ‘Howl’, and 2016’s mini album ‘Night Melody’ — that saw Ryan mature into what Pitchfork has called a “forward-thinking electronic musician with his own ideas about sound”. Atypical of instrumental-electronic music, Ryan has achieved a signature sound that’s unmistakably identifiable as Rival Consoles. Going beyond typical electronic music production, Ryan defines it as “songwriting with an electronic palette of sounds”. The increasingly dynamic live audio-visual show, born from bespoke performances at the Tate and for Boiler Room at the V&A Museum featuring self-programmed visuals in Max/MSP, has propelled him to play around the world. Ryan launches ‘Persona’ at London’s XOYO on 12th April with further dates to be announced.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: Like his 2015 opus 'Howl, 'Persona' treads the line between ambience and leftfield techno whilst staying resolutely listenable and thoroughly jaw-dropping. Less influenced by the interim EP's, and seemingly more focused on the spine-tingling crescentic electronica that West does SO well. Highly recommended.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    2xColoured LP Info: Limited indies only clear vinyl.

    Frahm returns to Erased Tapes for his most beguiling outing yet. Kicking things off with the choral solemnity of the brief 'The Whole Universe Wants To Be Touched',  before 'Sunson' excellently displays the sort of percussive demi-trance that he and Olafur Arnalds excelled at in their collaborative output. 'My Friend The Forest' has perhaps the most semblance to Frahm's earlier work, with the gently hammered piano strings being subtly blunted with some sort of preparation. It doesn't sound quite as muted as his seminal work (perhaps the felt has worn out a little), and is unmistakeable in it's  rapid trills, separated by moments of acoustic ambience. 

    'Forever Changeless' is again littered with moments of progressive beauty, but eases off a little on the sustain to give way to a slightly terse atmosphere, beautifully accentuated by Frahm's deft hands before moving into 'All Melody' which couldn't be more reminiscent of the spine-tingling electronic crescendo of 'Says' from 2013's 'Spaces'. 

    With the percussive workout of '#2' and 'Momentum' taking a metaphorical breath from the more upbeat moments, it gives us time to relax and reflect before the mournful military requiem of 'Fundamental Values' gives way to it's own latter resolution and smooth segue into the tropical arps of 'Kaleidoscope' and the soul-soothing slow-mo beauty of 'Harm Hymn'. 

    Another beautiful outing for Frahm, and further evidence of his credentials as one of today's most talented composers. 


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Barry says: Brittle pieces, flecked with ambient interludes and soaring, spine-tingling euphoric electronic elements. This is by far the most diverse, but thematically impeccable Frahm outing yet.


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