Wednesday, January 29, 2020

øjeRum - Selv I Drømme Lyser Den Første Sne (Aural Canyon, 2019)

You’re probably wondering, ‘another øjeRum review?’  Well, we happened to have a bunch of his releases in our stack, so we couldn’t help but spilling a little more ink about this ultra-prolific Dane.  This one is a cassette reissue from our friends over at Aural Canyon of an LP that originally came out on the German label Midira Records.  It must be said that both editions are worth owning just for the artwork alone, although the vinyl is long sold out at source.  Each edition is graced with its own handsome collage created by Paw Grabowski himself.

The vinyl version of Selv I Drømme Lyser Den Første Sne (English translation: even in dreams the first snow glows) pairs classic øjeRum ambient bliss with an interpretation on cello by Aaron Martin on the flip.  The cassette changes things up a bit.  The original piece remains, but the B Side contains a ‘dual version’, in which Martin’s cello and Grabowski’s loop-based ambient shimmer are played together.  The result is unbelievably breathtaking.

Fans of øjeRum’s oeuvre will be pleased by the eponymous 20-minute long monolith of minimalism – with its craftily-arranged loops and richly-hued sonic textures.  When floating alongside the cello’s wavelike sheen, the drones seem to flourish, to grow deeper and more complex.  This music is evocative enough to bring tears to your eyes, but its origins are not in melancholy.  These emotions are rooted in an indescribable beauty, an experience that must be undertaken to completely understand the sheer immensity.

Aural Canyon still has a handful of copies of this captivating release as of this writing, so let the winter winds whisk you off toward their Bandcamp and enjoy… 

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

øjeRum - 7 Sjæle (Midira Records, 2019)

If there’s one thing in common across all the øjeRum releases out in the wild, it’s that they’re all intensely beautiful works of art.  Both aurally and visually.  Danish musician Paw Grabowski is a master collagist, and his artwork adorns every musical artifact that he unleashes.  They are magical, amazing to look at.  And amazing to listen to.

øjeRum here presents seven souls, or songs, each a series of cascading swells that unfold slowly and crash delicately into each other.  The music is hypnotic, dreamlike, and misty.  Each of the first six relatively brief tracks reveals itself and then vanishes all too quickly.  Every piece is a unique take on the impalpable nature of sound rendered palpable when received, transmitted and decoded by our own sensory systems.  Like a gas, this music seems to expand to fill whatever space it enters: the atmosphere, a room, your ear canal.  Harnessed by our minds, images take shape: waves, a sunset, the movement of bare branches in the wind.

The final piece takes its time to beam into existence.  Over twenty minutes, øjeRum harnesses the preceding souls into a whirlwind of lush and intertwined drones.  It is a symphony of synthetic tones, a splatter of starlight with a pattern that evolves as the music unfurls.  It is sound as beauty, the feeling of being awash in bliss.

These beatific tones are available as 7 Sjæle, on LP via the Midira Records website or on cassette through øjeRum’s own Bandcamp marketplace.  Whichever way you choose to digest this intoxicating elixir, take your time, let it wash over you, and enjoy.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Antony Widoff - Disposition (Full Spectrum Records, 2019)

Welcome to 2020, dear folks!  This year is already gearing up to be a doozy, and along those lines, we’ve got an interesting tape here to chat with you about.  An interesting tape filled with eclectic computer music created by one of the more fascinating figures that you’ve probably never even heard of.  Antony Widoff has had a lengthy career that has seen him rubbing elbows with the likes of U2 and Frank Zappa, co-developing a musical composition software tool, and creating multimedia installations for display around the world.

In the 1980s, a young Widoff was a student at Bennington College, where he got involved with the development of a musical composition tool called M, and was hired by Intelligent Music, the small company founded by another of the developers, Joel Chadabe.  The other two authors of the software were David Zicarelli (who apparently still works on M) and John Offenhartz.  At around this time, the aspiring musician and composer was also noticed by free jazz legend Bill Dixon, who was a professor at the school, and formed a sort of collaborative pairing with the innovative trumpeter.

He was also in an angular post-punk band called Memorial Garage alongside Philip Price, and has been attributed to a recording under the name Weak (released in 2003) and an animated storybook called Have Another Pillow.  He currently runs a podcast called The Assembly of Silence Radio Hour, writes philosophical texts, and creates videos (and still makes music).  These activities can be sampled over at his Patreon, on which Widoff goes by the name Taijireality.

Disposition was a series of demo recordings for the M software tool and was originally released by Intelligent Music as one of four products that the company had on offer.  The others were the M software itself, as well as another package called MIDI Draw, and a cassette from founder Joel Chadabe.  The music is, not surprisingly, varied from track to track.  Jaunty new age romps pair up with quiet interludes which butt up against more experimental fare.  There are some exquisite and incredibly fascinating moments here, especially the title track and the free jazz-like “Who Is This You”.  The closing piece, the evocative “Just a Phase”, samples the many moods and motifs found across the rest of the tape and juxtaposes these in a very evocative manner.  Somehow, this collection of ideas and experiments has coalesced into a unique experience that is definitely worth undertaking.

Fortuitously, a copy of the original Disposition cassette turned up in the hands of musician Andrew Weathers, who runs the Full Spectrum Records label.  Weathers immediately contacted Widoff, who was delighted to re-issue the music for a new, and potentially appreciative, audience.  I’m going to repeat myself when I say that this is certainly a tape worth investigating, so I urge you to bounce on over to the Full Spectrum Records Bandcamp site and take an aural gander at this lovely little gem; prepare to be pleasantly surprised.