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Tenniscoats

Papa's Ear

    Just over a decade ago, Japanese indie-pop duo Tenniscoats recorded "Papa's Ear" (2012) and "Tan-Tan Therapy" (2007), two albums made with musical and production help from Swedish post-rock/folk trio Tape. Originally released on Häpna, they are beautiful documents of the exploratory music made by a close- knit collective of musicians, fully at ease with each other, playing songs written by Tenniscoats and arranging them in gentle and generous ways. Released during a particularly productive time for Tenniscoats - during the late '00s and early '10s, they would also collaborate with Jad Fair, The Pastels, Secai and Pastacas - they have, however, never been available on vinyl. In collaboration with Alien Transistor, Morr Music is now reissuing these albums both digitally and on double vinyl, with extra tracks.

    This reissue mini-series starts with "Papa's Ear". The second album from this expanded line-up of Tenniscoats, you can hear the musicians are immediately comfortable in each other's presence, and they've almost intuitively understood what they can offer to one another. Saya and Ueno of Tenniscoats bring their magical, gentle folk-pop sensibility, and their winning way with straightforward, yet lush melodies. Johan Berthling, along with fellow Tape member Tomas Hallonsten, plus guests Fredrik Ljungkvist, Lars Skoglund, Andreas Söderstrom and Andreas Werlin, all generous and creative presences in the Swedish jazz underground, shades in the songs with endlessly inventive arrangements, highlighting the warmth and curiosity at the core of the Tenniscoats' aesthetic - sometimes taking the songs in unexpected directions, other times pillowing the melodies with the softest of brushstrokes and the kindest of tones.

    "Papa's Ear" includes some of Tenniscoats' most memorable songs. "Papaya" is a lustrous dreamland of a song, with the Swedish musicians singing 'pa-pa-ya' as an enchanted tattoo, while Saya's piano and melodica clank and huff out, further expanding the song's horizon. It's followed by the spindly and mysterious "Sappolondon", where drums and double-bass shuffle and pulse under weeping accordion and bittersweet clarinet. Saya's voice sighs into the frame while the musicians breathe lungfuls of sweet drones and flick glittering countermelodies across the song's surface. It reminds a little of the wild kindness of Movietone, or the regal charm of Carla Bley's compositions.

    Elsewhere, you can hear Tape and their friends embracing the freedom offered by the songs of Tenniscoats: see, for example, the glistening electronics in "På floden", like a keyboard conducting a music box on a distant planet; or the descending phrase for winds on "Sabaku", dovetailing beautifully into a creek of moon-lit texturology. The double-LP ends with two extra tracks, drawn from the 2008 Tenniscoats/Tape split single, also released by Häpna., "Lutie Lutie" is a sweet delight, driven by a clacking drum machine, the Tenniscoats duo joined by Hallonsten on glockenspiel and synthesizer, and special guest, Japanese indie-pop legend Kazumi Nikaido, as choir. "Come Maddalena" rounds off the set, a brooding cover of an Ennio Morricone tune, the music by Tape, the vocals by Tenniscoats and Nikaido. Open-hearted and full of puckish spirit, "Papa's Ear" is an album of great tenderness and warm friendship.

    TRACK LISTING

    1. Higa Noboru / The Sun Rises (2022 Remaster) 04:39
    2. Hikoki / Airplane (2022 Remaster) 08:12
    3. Kuki No Soko / The Bottom Of The Air (2022 Remaster) 04:29
    4. Papaya (2022 Remaster) 04:42
    5. Sappolondon (2022 Remaster) 03:57
    6. New Seasons Dead (2022 Remaster) 05:15
    7. På Floden / On The River (2022 Remaster) 03:27
    8. Sabaku / Desert (2022 Remaster) 06:00
    9. Tanjobi No Yokan / Expectation Of Birth (2022 Remaster) 04:10
    10. Nigor / Cloudy Air Is Not So Bad (2022 Remaster) 02:11
    11. Come Maddalena (2022 Remaster) 05:17
    12. Lutie Lutie (2022 Remaster) 04:17

    Sin Fang, Soley & Orvar Smarason

    Dream Is Murder

      Three of Reykjavík's most prolific and creative musicians have joined hands once again on this track-focused project. Each month in 2021 has seen a new digital single by the project, which are now all collected on this album. Some people say it's the hope that kills you, but statistically dreams are responsible for a lot more casualties. The second album from the Icelandic supergroup, not only acknowledges this but celebrates it. To dream is to slowly digest oneself from the inside.

      Dntel

      The Seas Trees See

        Hailing from Los Angeles, Jimmy Tamborello has been a key figure in refining what today is considered electronica for over 20 years. "The Seas Trees See" is the first of two Dntel albums to be released in 2021 by Morr Music in collaboration with Les Albums Claus: a free-floating and rather loose stroke of musical genius, giving ambience a whole new meaningful context. It combines crackles and hiss with deep, yet modest, synths and poignant, yet elegant, vocals and lyrics.

        "Away", its counterpart album, will follow later in 2021. It will showcase Dntel's unapologetic love for pop music from a long-gone era, presenting yet another aspect of his multi-faceted personality. Dntel has always covered many musical grounds - from the pop-infused hits on "Life Is Full Of Possibilities" (Plug Research, 2001) to his much more abstract works on "Aimlessness" (Pampa Records, 2012), "Human Voice" (Leaving Records, 2014), and his electronics for The Postal Service (Sub Pop). Whatever his style - Tamborello has retained his very own musical voice. When it comes to producing music, it can be a good idea to get away from the studio and find a more relaxed environment. Inspiration does not necessarily require huge bass bins. Fewer pieces of gear make it easier to really focus on ideas first and let them be. After recording "Hate In My Heart" - his most recent album, released in 2018 - this way, Tamborello continued working in that fashion, mainly jamming and getting ideas together for upcoming live shows. One of the first results of this creative process was the opening track of "The Seas Trees See" - a cover version of "The Lilac and the Apple", originally recorded by Californian folk singer Kate Wolf in 1977. Tamborello turns the acapella song into a vocoder-like extravaganza.


        Working with the original recording, the track perfectly sets the tone for what "The Seas Trees See" turns out to be - a quiet yet mesmerizing journey through sound and emotion, bringing together his very own sound design, disguised samples and an incredible feel for moods and atmospheres. "I thought a lot about making an album that you would find in a thrift store", Tamborello remembers. Something "like a mysterious collection of sketches that leaves a lot unanswered. It doesn't beg for attention or have any big moments." Despite its perfect and gentle flow, it is worth digging deeper, to surrender oneself to all the painstakingly placed details.


        Whether the beautiful and haunting piano work on "Movie Tears" or the almost sidechained-sounding "Yoga App" - every aspect of this album has been beautifully crafted, often bringing one of life's biggest questions to the table: What if? What would have happened if Tamborello would have done this on that track or that on this track? It is good that he did not. Small things add up to something great, diverse and riveting. The subtlety of his latest endeavor is fascinating. It opens up a new world, in which small musical sketches mean at least as much as perfectly produced pop anthems - if not more.

        TRACK LISTING

        1 The Lilac And The Apple (remix)
        2 The Seas
        3 Whimsy
        4 The Man On The Mountain
        5 Back Home
        6 What I Made
        7 Movie Tears
        8 Fall In Love
        9 Yoga App
        10 After All
        11 Hard Weather 

        The Notwist

        Ship

          After six years, The Notwist return with three new tracks on Morr Music. It's both an exposition of the the band's musical variety and a prospect on a forthcoming album. With its variety of styles, "Ship" also serves as an outlook on an upcoming album, which will be influenced by the band's experiences from their detailed work of creating sounds and moods for film soundtracks, and it will include more collaborations with international guest musicians.

          System W/ Nils Frahm

          Plus

          New recordings by Danish electronic trio System (aka Future 3) in collaboration with Berlin based composer Nils Frahm. His purpose-built improvisations on synth, organ and piano served as source material for the members of System (Thomas Knak, Anders Remmer & Jesper Skaaning), who merged his warm acoustic tones with their minimalist digitalism and set out to translate their distinctive clicks 'n' cuts electronics into vivid soundscapes. The blending of piano and digital tones and noises into emotive pieces might instantly recall the work of Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto, though System and Frahm come to quite different results.

          TRACK LISTING

          Side 1
          1. Open (6:03)
          2. Drift (5:35)
          3. Gebiet (4:29)
          Side 2
          1. Piste (6:01)
          2. Stille (4:30)
          Side 3
          1. Minus (6:38)
          2. Add (5:59)
          Side 4
          1. Frem (4:45)
          2. Plus (9:40)

          Lali Puna

          Two Windows

            The world has changed rapidly since Lali Puna released Our Inventions in 2010, a fact that is also reflected in the band's fifth album, Two Windows. Written and produced over almost two years, these twelve new songs meet those changes head-on both musically and lyrically. Keith Tenniswood (Two Lone Swordsmen) contributed as Radioactive Man. Dntel aka Jimmy Tamborello, another old friend of the band, is featured as well as harpist / Ghostly International alumna Mary Lattimore and experimental artist Midori Hirano (here under her MimiCof moniker).

            On their first album in six years, ISAN once more weave together electronic soundscapes, delicate rhythms and the occasional odd sound into a pulsating, ever-morphing whole. Glass Bird Movement is Antony Ryan and Robin Saville's eighth studio album since they have started the project two decades ago. Exchanging ideas between England and Denmark, where Ryan currently resides, ISAN have crafted an album which is reminiscent of heyday Boards Of Canada productions, the friendlier ventures of Aphex Twin or the most focused moments of Ulrich Schnauss, if you will. However, this album (as well their impressive back catalogue, as subtle it may seem) displays a strong signature. ISAN constantly move forwards without leaving their respective studios. And why should they - it's warm and dry in there and the kettle is always boiling.

            The title Glass Bird Movement, like those of many of their records and songs, is the product of an free associative process which reflects ISAN's creative methods and frames the eleven songs in a way that triggers the imagination. Communicating less about their music than rather with their music, Ryan and Saville together immerse themselves in complex structures without shutting out their audience. Instead, the friendly bouncing grooves of songs like "Napier Deltic", the washed out harmonies of the aptly titled "Risefallsleep" or the circular rhythms of the album's opener, "Cuckoo Down", have dream-like, inviting qualities to them. ISAN are particular about incorporating the element of chance, a sort of second-hand human touch, in their music. If it's a cheap keyboard that is only good for one note in one song alone or a tape loop cut by hand, anything can find its way into an ISAN song. Even though they take most of their inspiration from the machines they work with, they do not fetishise their gear - but play with it.

            Glass Bird Movement relies just as heavily on all those sonic idiosynkrasies as it does on the sophisticated rhythms and throbbing basses that form its foundation. Like the colourful art of Morr Music's in-house designer Julia Guther, which was based on Saville and Ryan's visual ideas, it is a record that very politely defies categorisation. One might call the music that ISAN make Intelligence Dance Music, as it has often been done. However, be aware that there has reportedly only ever been one person seen dancing to it. Glass Bird Movement is likely best enjoyed where it is warm and dry, while the kettle is boiling.

            TRACK LISTING

            1. Cuckoo Down
            2.  Lace Murex
            3.  Parley Glove
            4.  Glass Bird Movement
            5.  Leonardo's Formula
            6.  Every Since And Then
            7.  Napier Deltic
            8.  Rattling Downhill
            9.  Slow Rings
            10.  Risefallsleep
            11.  Linnæus

            Duo505

            Walzer Oder Nicht

              Duo505 is Bernhard Fleischmann and Herbert Weixelbaum.

              Duo 505’s new recordings are somewhat reminiscent of Velvet Underground (at their catchiest), of Yo La Tengo’s sense of melody, or the kind of ballads Brian Eno or Zach Condon are known for. Make no mistake: Even though “Walzer Oder Nicht” certainly has its noisier moments, some Tall Dwarfs-style clank and clatter even, the new album is even more thoughtful, quiet and warm-hearted than its predecessors.

              “Walzer Oder Nicht” is an album that sounds very much complete and very dense and full of hidden layers; an album that evokes childlike enthusiasm with its magnificent melodies. Fleischmann and Weixelbaum are currently looking for a way to present this new sound on stage.


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