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VILLAGE GREEN

With a clutch of deeply conceptual albums on subjects as diverse as the anthropocene and sleep paralysis after a major car accident, Cuts' latest album, ‘Unreal’, is a cathartic and mournful meditation on pandemics, populism and disinformation. ‘Unreal’ is the second full-length album by musician and filmmaker Anthony Tombling Jr’s CUTS moniker. Tracks retain their emotional resonances in strong melodies and eerie vocals but there is also a hard edge to the music compared to previous releases. “I’ve always reacted to my environment,” explains Tombling, “and a lot of the themes I am exploring on ‘Unreal’ are around climate crisis, pandemics, and the terrifying rise of far right orators.”

‘Unreal’ was largely made in lockdown, as Tombling moved to an isolated house where there was no phone or internet three days before full lockdown was introduced across the UK. He soon built a routine of foraging for dinner in the morning and making music all afternoon. It marks a major departure in his output, as the first album not to be rooted in his films.

It opens with ‘R U OK?’, with a precipitous bass drop into anxious rhythms like irregular heartbeats. ‘Dissolution’ is a vocoder ballad for fragmenting hardware; ‘Unreal’ is a hazy roller, evoking fast cars on highways at night. ‘Omega Minus’ is a requiem for postindustrial wastelands, as robotic voices sweep over dust storms and obsolete machinery, then ‘Sheltered Life’ harnesses coarse, rippling static around depth-charge bass. ‘The Brink’ brings on woozy and elastic basslines, ‘Exhale Exile’ sways in melodic loops lashed to fitful beats, then final track ‘An Infinite Collapse’ blows off the grit to reveal songlines and crumbling metallic pulses that crackle with static electricity.

Tombling’s sound world for ‘Unreal’ is one of anxiety, frustration and emotional peaks, where heavy slugs of sound are lifted by vocoder lyricism, sharp static and fizzing cymbals that cut through like shafts of light in abandoned warehouses. “It’s the heaviest record I’ve made,” says Tombling, “but it’s also the most accessible. I was much more influenced by what's going on in the world - it’s impossible not to be at a moment like this.”

TRACK LISTING

R U OK?
Dissolution
Unreal
Omega Minus
Sheltered Life
The Brink
Exhale Exile
An Infinite Collapse

Cuts

A Gradual Decline

    Cuts, the audio-visual project of composer and filmmaker Anthony Tombling Jr, releases his debut album ‘A Gradual Decline’ through Village Green Recordings. Available on double vinyl and CD with printed inners featuring artwork photography taken by Cuts himself in Iceland.  

    Summoning 11 widescreen, electronic compositions in response to global political and environmental breakdown, ‘A Gradual Decline’ addresses the planet’s current fragility using actual field recordings of ice collapsing from glaciers. Weaving these momentary, dramatic events directly into the DNA of the music, Cuts has sculpted rhythmic elements out of geological transformation.

    A stark sense of urgency permeates ‘A Gradual Decline’. At times chaotic and alarming, the album’s siren-like tones and volatile, stuttered beats converge with synthetic gales of melody and glacial percussion. Elsewhere, the sense of precariousness is subtler, enveloped in gaseous chords that swell and evaporate, ethereal and dense guitars and distant vocals – all hallmarks of previous Cuts material - here honed into a concise, conceptual set.

    TRACK LISTING

    1. A Gradual Decline
    2. Shattering Through
    3. Polar
    4. From Here To Nowhere
    5. Time Is Not Your Friend
    6. Pollen
    7. Beauty Collapsing
    8. Kernel Panic
    9. Gravitational Loss
    10. Maboroshi
    11. Fear Of Everything

    Moon Gangs

    Earth Loop

      ‘Earth Loop’, the debut album by BEAK> keyboardist William Young’s Moon Gangs project, is set for release via Village Green Recordings.

      A classically-trained pianist, Young composed ‘Earth Loop’ “half and half in a classical sense,” some played live on keyboards, with ideas notated traditionally, the other half created using analogue sequencers with random voltage sources.

      “Earth Loop mainly came out of jamming with synths. The mixer I use is an old Tascam 144 so if things are sounding good I just hit record and get it to tape. Everything started as big long rambles recorded live that are then trimmed down into something more concise. Inspiration-wise I’d been listening to more classical stuff, a lot of chamber music for strings, and I think that shows in the string section-y bits. Although they’re all synths, not actual strings. It was recorded all over the place over quite a long time which I guess is why there are a lot of different ‘moods’ on it, rather than it being a document of a specific period of time/place. I also started building a field recording library over the last couple of years so there’s quite a bit of that in there, but they’re generally processed and run through synths so they’re not too recognisable.” - William Young, Moon Gangs

      Young’s introduction to synth music came from listening to film scores when he was a teenager, such as ‘Terminator’, ‘Videodrome’, ‘Zombie Flesh Eaters’ and ‘Phantasm’. Scores from kosmische pioneers Tangerine Dream and Popol Vuh also played a large part in these formative musical years.

      Not going out much as a child, Young spent a lot of time indoors playing video games. Instead of a SNES, his mum bought him a Commodore 64 as she thought the keyboard made it seem more educational. Certain games and their soundtracks also struck a chord, such as ‘The Last Ninja’, ‘Dante’s Inferno’, ‘Stormlord’ and ‘Castle Master’.

      Moon Gangs officially began in 2011, with the release of ‘Sea/Sky’ on cassette tape via the incipient Where To Now label. Friends from his time spent in Brighton, it was both Young’s and the label’s first release and set the tone for his later output with ambient, analogue synth loops and foreboding, cinematic drones. Subsequent releases followed, such as 2014’s self-titled EP, mixed by Hookworms’ MJ, and an appearance on the Blanck Mass-curated film score ‘The Strange Colour Of Your Body's Tears’, released via Death Waltz.

      Angèle David-Guillou

      En Mouvement

        London-based French composer Angèle David-Guillou makes audacious music that explores the interaction between rhythm and melody, structure and emotion, permanence and change. Her work is one of incessant dialogue between these elements, creating hypnotic compositions whose mutable internal architecture and shifting melodic accentuations immediately draw the listener in, while constantly, almost imperceptibly, disorienting auditory perception. It’s a compositional process that is central to the eight compelling essays on the aptly titled ‘En Mouvement’, David-Guillou’s new album, the second under her given name.

        Informed by a rich and eclectic tapestry of cultural stimuli, including Philip Glass’s ‘Glassworks’, the music for movement of Thomas De Hartmann and George Ivanovich Gurdjieff, Alvin Curran's compositions for the piano, French and Spanish Baroque music, the films of Andrei Tarkovsky and Jean Cocteau, Sufi writings, Sumerian art and contemporary dance, the pieces on ‘En Mouvement’ are the work of a reflective, intellectually engaged yet delightfully instinctive modern composer who has made the limitless mutability implied by the concept of ‘movement’ a thing of personal transformation and mesmeric musicality.

        “Very early on in the process of working on the compositions for this album, the idea of ‘movement’ became my central point of focus,” David-Guillou confirms. “The word seemed to encapsulate all my obsessions. En mouvement literally means ‘in motion’, but the word in French, as in English, is extremely rich and suggests an array of ideas such as motion, gesture, dance, musical parts, clockwork, repetition, displacement, emotional confusion or excitement. In fact, I realise now that this concept has been present ever since I started listening to and making music; I just hadn’t quite understood how important it was to me.”

        With her second album of modern composition, Angèle David-Guillou’s career is palpably en movement and, excitingly, it feels like the beginning of a long and thrillingly creative musical journey.

        John Matthias & Jay Auborn

        Race To Zero

          ‘Race To Zero’ is the new album by musician and composer John Matthias and producer, musician and composer Jay Auborn, via the Village Green label.

          The album’s starting point was a series of acoustic improvisations recorded in a variety of locations, from a 700-year-old chapel in the Devon countryside to a basement studio in Reykjavík, Iceland. In an attempt to create a fractured sense of space reflective of the digital condition, the duo found themselves working within a place that could only exist in the digital landscape. By crushing the recordings through a hundred different virtual rooms of reverb and other chaotic digital processes they collided, soared and splintered into sweeping new rhythms, melodies and drones. Pushing the computer’s processor beyond its limits threw up sonic ‘errors’ that wouldn’t be easily possible to create through standard methods. In response, these outcomes created new and unplanned inspiration for further composition. Elements of the album were then produced binaurally adding a three dimensional listening experience. The outcome is a unique landscape that blurs the line between the virtual and physical worlds.

          “Cerebral yet accessible” - Uncut (8/10)

          “A fascinating album that continually surprises with its neo-classical meets electronic template” - Clash

          Thomas William Hill

          Asylum For Eve

            From the combined backgrounds of film score composition and field recordings comes ‘Asylum For Eve’, Thomas William Hill’s rich and expressive new album and the first written under his own name.

            While not a concept album in the strict sense of the term, the album’s title refers to a hypothetical imagining of ‘Mitochondrial Eve’, the theorised matrilineal ancestor of all living humans, reincarnated in today’s world of restricted movement. Threads inspired by this juxtaposition of division and connectedness run through the album, which drifts from plaintive piano-led passages to brisk chamber music and back again, tied together by the textured layering of found sounds and instruments that distinguishes Thomas’s music.

            Soft Error

            Mechanism

              Electronic duo Soft Error release their debut album ‘Mechanism’ through Village Green, recorded at Valgeir Sigurðsson’s renowned Greenhouse Studio in Reykjavik, Iceland.

              A largely electronic pairing, Soft Error are otherwise known as Tim and Rupert, both of whom have musical backgrounds in dance music / DJ culture and composition for film, theatre and TV respectively. Soft Error, however, represents a thrilling new artistic beginning rather than being simply another musical project.

              The album offers a fresh and singular brand of musical intrigue by reaching back and forward simultaneously, drawing from the innovative, propulsive thrum of 1970s Krautrock and the grainy textures and tonalities of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop on one hand and the symphonic, futuristic soundscapes of composers like Cliff Martinez, John Carpenter and Jon Hopkins on the other.

              TRACK LISTING

              Silberblick
              Hyena
              You Caught Up
              Southend After
              Everyone Has Left
              Turncoat
              Motorbath
              Bad Habits
              Ridges
              Everybody Runs

              Ilya Beshevli

              Wanderer Remixes - Inc. Simian Mobile Disco / Palmbomen Remixes

                Ilya Beshevli’s sophomore album ‘Wanderer’, released in May 2016, gets a reworking of the title track by Dutch lo-fi house producer Kai Hugo aka Palmbomen as well as minimalist composer and labelmate Ryan Teague, whereas Simian Mobile Disco remix focus track ‘The Traveller’s Night Song’.  The SMD rework on Side-A is a woozy warped-keys rework of the original, with throbbing kick drums and cosmic echoes swirling around the stereo field. Starting with driving pitched kicks and a faded melodic trill working its way to the forefront before introducing both rhythmic and (later) melodic counterparts. Half Way through and it descends into some echoey melodic black-hole before kick-starting the part with an anthemic and triumphant ambient electronic climax. Move into the latter half of side-A, and there is a perfect juxtaposition to the dancefloor ready vibes on the opener in Palmbomen's remix of 'Wanderer'. New-age pads and woodwind-esque squeals are thrown together with aplomb, whilst giving way gradually to an ever encroaching melodic foundation. Half-way through and a resonant 303 rips its way into the mix, slidding and shimmering about the place, before coaxing the formerly meek ambience into some sort of distorted empathy. On the flipside, the epic Ryan Teague remix displays the sort of arpeggiated electronic ambience you might expect from Ricardo Donoso or Ulrich Schnauss before scraping and droning into a skittering rhythmic glitch. Highly melodic, but littered with artifacts (tape-stop/beat repeat etc) pulling and pushing at the established foundation whilst still retaining a cohesion and dedication to the source material. An excellently curated trio of tracks here, remaining true to the spirit of the original, whilst forging a new path for the outer boundaries of the sound. 

                  

                STAFF COMMENTS

                Barry says: A perfectly flowing, and warmingly cohesive set of remixes from Ilya Beshevli's stunning 'Wanderer'. From cosmic electronic, to new-age with a bit of acid thrown in for good measure. A perfect digital counterfoil to the acoustic drive of the original.

                Dead Light was created after Anna Rose Carter and Ed Hamilton moved from London to a quiet, remote space in the countryside. The migration out of the sprawling metropolis to their new rural refuge was a transition that significantly impacted them both and one that continues to turn and shift under the ambivalence of change, loss and new beginnings.

                The reality of this new setting is an apposition between the quaint and serene nature of their new life and the dislocation from the lives, people, places and culture that they left behind; two conflicting sentiments that co-exist in a somehow beautiful, bitter-sweet relationship. Dead Light is the tension between these two states, a textured and imperfect dream world.

                Recorded at Pie Corner between September 2014 and May 2016, the eponymously titled debut album from Dead Light is a tender, ambient exploration of hope, escape, tension and isolation. Rooted in traditional instrumentation and a handmade approach to effects and synthesis, Dead Light’s music draws upon classical, ambient, pop and electro-acoustic influences. Waves of melancholy stretch through every track, with slow yet expressive melodies that sing from tape-looped cello motifs and an old close-mic’d piano that Anna’s grandfather gave her, yet the feeling of hope never seems to be far away.

                Distant and reflective yet intimate and emotive, Dead Light’s sound is characterised by a plethora of analogue artefacts ranging from tape delays (via daisy chained reel to reel machines), homemade synthesisers, old Russian microphones and 1950s tube pre-amps, as well as contact mics and hydrophones.

                Elements of their textured sound can be attributed to their experimentation with treated tape (warped in various ways via prolonged exposure to sunlight, vinegar solutions, microwaves and washing machines), hydrophones (placed in ice trays and allowed to freeze and thaw) and most noticeably, piano preparations (hand-muting strings, screwdrivers, coins, felt, using the soundboard as a plate reverb, etc). Other experimental techniques can be found in ‘Sleeper’, for example, which utilises the layering of looped and treated voice, or in ‘Broods And Waits’ which uses experimental timbres of stringed instruments and drone-like backdrops.

                ‘Falling In’, the first track they wrote after their escape from London, is a great example of their sound, involving the textural exploration of Anna’s old piano coupled with Ed’s emotive tape treatments and loops.

                11 tracks in total, the ‘Dead Light’ album is an exploration of ambivalence, a sonic ethnography that contemplates a personal narrative of transition and identity. Joining the likes of Matt Dunkley, Ben Chatwin and John Matthias, Dead Light’s first album is released on the London-based Village Green label.

                TRACK LISTING

                Blooms
                Slow Slowly
                The Ballad Of A Small
                Player
                Falling In
                Sleeper
                In Red And Red
                Trills
                Broods And Waits
                Little Blue
                Pale Fire
                Outpour

                Matt Dunkley

                Six Cycles

                  Matt Dunkley is a leading orchestrator, arranger and conductor. He has worked on over 130 films, including ‘Black Swan’, ‘Inception’ and ‘Moulin Rouge!’.

                  On top of his work in film Matt has worked on projects with numerous recording artists such as Massive Attack, Patti Smith, Badly Drawn Boy, Elliott Smith and Nick Cave.

                  Matt has now decided to turn his hand to writing albums of his own. ‘Six Cycles’ is his enchanting debut. The album is rich with luscious strings recorded with a 12 piece orchestra.

                  The album is dense with lavish filmic soundscapes - grand in its nature but packed with nuances you discover after further listening.

                  For fans of Clint Mansell, Hans Zimmer, Thomas Newman.

                  Ellis Island Sound are Pete Astor (The Loft, Weather Prophets, Wisdom Of Harry) and David Sheppard (State River Widening, Snow Palms).

                  ‘Regions’ is the duo’s third album since their inception and it has already been described as “Afro-Krautrock” and “Teutonic High Life”.

                  It is possible to detect the influence of Jean Bosco Mwende or King Sunny Ade’s guitars, along with polyrhythmic ensemble force of Fela Kuti’s Africa 70 and T-Funk-period Talking Heads.

                  Sometime Radiohead collaborator John Matthias adds vocals to five tracks, coming on like an opiated James Brown channelling Damo Suzuki.

                  TRACK LISTING

                  Nairobi / Koln
                  So Much Water Close To Home
                  Intro, Airborne, Travelling
                  We Do Not
                  Offices At Night
                  Floating Home
                  The Letting Go
                  Herr Ya Ya
                  Schwitters In Lakeland
                  Worlds Ahead
                  Ubu Goes To Town


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