remote_ thoughts | contemporary electronic

Kane Ikin – Sublunar – 12k

Posted in Reviews: Electronic by remotethoughts on October 30, 2012

Kane Ikin - Sublunar

As one part of Solo Andata, you may well be familiar with Kane Ikin’s music. What you may not be prepared for, however, is the sheer immediacy of this release and all its myriad influences.

Having enjoyed his EP release on 12k, this album proves to be an an interesting and startling counterpoint to that work. This, for the most part, is 12k doing Witch House. And I don’t use that term lightly.

For all it’s trend-driven foibles, Witch House has given the listener a lot to be excited about over the last 3 years. Balam Acab and OoOOoo (or however you spell it…) being two of the most striking examples. Where Kane Ikin trumps them, in my opinion, is the delicacy with which he introduces ghostly sounds into the mix.

This has turned out to be one of the most unusually rhythmic releases on the label in recent times, albeit with an incredibly minimal slant on things. And while the beats are there in abundance, they play second fiddle to the delicious range of tones and textures, whilst underpinning most of the tracks.

The feeling of emptiness and space is beautifully balanced with a keen sense of dense sound design that keeps each track fresh. The melodies are fragile and sparse, but tangibly ‘there’, if you see what I mean.

Imagine an act like Balam Acab, for example, being put through the reverb wringer and coming out sounding as drenched in echo, delay and drone as you can consider possible. And it doesn’t have a single pitched up vocal anywhere in sight. That alone has to mark it out for a considerable amount of bonus points.

In essence this is a 12k release first and foremost. But the references to other types of music are abundant and simply can’t be ignored. Simply, this is one of the most engaging albums of the year for the 12k imprint.

Check it here: 12k

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Stephan Mathieu – A Static Place – 12k

Posted in Reviews: Electronic, Reviews: Minimalist by remotethoughts on February 21, 2011

Stephan Mathieu - A Static Place

An early contender for album of the year here from the marvellous Stephan Mathieu as he joins forces with 12k. It’s another gorgeous solo outing exploring the realms of the soundscape in a deliciously atmospheric way.

Created using a set of 78rpm recordings of early gothic and baroque music, Mathieu then set about manipulating and transforming these sounds into the ghostly and wistful collection of music on A Static Place.

From the off there’s a calm and almost pastoral lilt to the ambience with dusty textures and layers of hiss hiding behind some truly beautiful tones. Gliding serenely and using the innate sense of musicality from the originals this work is at once very modern, yet at the same time a glimpse into a world gone by.

Variation comes by adding differing passages within the tracks and the seemingly effortless way the luscious is blended with the haunting really is a treat for the ears. There’s a sense of unhurried charm that really comes to the fore when you allow yourself to be truly immersed, preferably with headphones in my opinion.

Each piece weaves a slightly different spell and the overall effect is of an otherworldly place that we’re being permitted to sink into for a short time. The layers are melodic, always, but with hidden depths that range from bass hum through to a light dissonance which keeps things varied.

A magical slice of work, then, and something for lovers of the purest beatless music to enjoy over and over again. Truly sublime.

Check it here: 12k

Taylor Deupree – Shoals – 12k

Posted in Reviews: Electronic, Reviews: Organic by remotethoughts on June 28, 2010

Taylor Deupree - Shoals

Artist: Taylor Deupree

Title: Shoals

Label: 12k

Cat No.: 12K1060

Format: CD

I remember saying in my review of Taylor’s Northern album that his key solo works don’t come along very often – well, to be fair there have actually been a fair few Deupree releases over the past few years, collaborative or otherwise. That doesn’t change the fact that a new full length on his own 12k imprint is a really special event and worthy of close attention.

Shoals gestation period has allowed it to take on a fascinating form of its own and the differences between Northern and this are tangible. Whereas Northern was part of his more accessible (if that’s the right word) period of organically-based, less overtly electronic releases Shoals takes a considerably less immediately melodic approach to the compositions.

I have to say that for me this is, along with Stil, my favourite full length album by Deupree. Sometimes you just know when something is right and here he’s combined the almost static drone feel of Stil with the layers and perfectly captured imperfections of Northern’s more earthy sound.

The four pieces that make up Shoals should be considered one journey in my opinion. They each work together to create a captivating flow which holds the attention for the duration and with an immense palette of samples, instruments and recordings it’s never anything less than enchanting

There’s still a natural sense of melody here, don’t get me wrong, but it’s blended with a background feel that seems to find a tone or texture and hold it, allowing the overlaid sounds to provide most of the movement and structure. The title track is a beautiful example of that as it remains focused for 12 minutes while providing a sparkling array of incidental tones and feelings to shine through the mix – bells, electronic drips and drops, subtle guitar strums and field recordings. This style really does form the basis for the whole album apart from the second track which has a sound that harks back much more to Northern with its light and hypnotic acoustic guitar refrain and plenty of found sounds.

It’s all about the tension between the real and the unreal as the forces of electronic processing collide with warm, human sounding textures, undeniably pretty moments and yet an undertone of barely disguised experimentalism. That’s why it’s such a surprisingly dynamic album to listen to – although you’d no doubt call it electronic minimalism in some ways, it’s actually full to brimming with exciting flavours of sound that can be enjoyed over and over with each additional listen adding new layers of understanding.

Created and produced with an incredible ear for detail, Taylor Deupree’s Shoals is a real feast for the ears and another indispensable addition to your music collection without a shadow of a doubt. Quite superb.

Taylor Deupree – Snow (Dusk, Dawn) – 12k

Posted in Reviews: Electronic, Reviews: Organic by remotethoughts on May 25, 2010

Taylor Deupree - Snow (Dusk, Dawn) - 12k

Artist: Taylor Deupree

Title: Snow (Dusk, Dawn)

Label: 12k

Cat No.: 12K2016

Format: 3″ CD – Edition of 63 copies

Taylor Deupree’s latest release in the limited 12k offshoot series is a beautiful work, both aurally and visually, that never gets bogged down in the intricacies of being too conceptual. The premise is simple – using expired Polaroid film he took a series of 63 photographs then swiftly scanned them at different stages of decay before they faded completely to black. Each copy of the album comes with these prints as well as the original Polaroid so every single edition is unique.

The idea of being transient is particularly pertinent as Deupree’s love and study of nature have an obvious link to the idea of change. As ever the music that accompanies these images is deep, delightfully melodic and full of a natural sounding warmth.

Snow (Dusk, Dawn) concerns itself with gentle movement and layering of sounds that shift almost imperceptibly throughout, yet have a steady flow which is rooted (and I use that term deliberately) to the underlying sounds. Much like nature itself there’s an ever present sense of something being there, even if it’s only glimpsed occasionally or at certain times.

Using analogue and digital sources the friendly ambience here is never anything less than beautiful and his uncanny grasp of melodic texture and depth shines through the entire 18 minute piece.

Although a relatively expensive work I think it’s something that’s more than worth seeking out bearing in mind the love and time which has gone into its production. If you can find a copy I have a sneaking suspicion that you’ll find it to be one of his most gorgeous low-key works.

Fourcolor – Letter Of Sounds – 12k

Posted in Reviews: Electronic, Reviews: Organic by remotethoughts on October 15, 2006

Fourcolor - Letter Of Sounds

Artist: Fourcolor

Title: Letter Of Sounds

Label: 12k

Cat No.: 12K1038

Format: CD

It’s fair to say, I think, that Keiichi Sugimoto is not only prolific, but something of a master of his genre of music as well. It doesn’t seem to matter which of his guises he’s working under, he always just seems to get it right. Whether he’s producing as Fonica, Filfla or as part of four-piece act Minamo, there’s a subtlety and very Japanese beauty to everything he does.

To find that the new 12k release is from his Fourcolor project is great news indeed as ‘Air Curtain’, his previous CD for Taylor Deupree’s label, was a delicious slice of low-key, melodic electronic lushness. Similarly, ‘Letter Of Sounds’ is a work that seems infinitely delicate, yet more than robust enough to stand the test of time.

By opening with the sheer exuberance of ‘02’ it quickly becomes apparent that we’re dealing with a serious album. His use of organically-based sounds which are then constructed into shimmering layers of electronic music is enchanting and, once again, we find him using the sound of guitar harmonics to punctuate his tracks.

Simple, charming chord structures form the basis for a lot of the work here and they have a pleasingly old-school feel with just the right amount of Techno-style soul to keep the purists happy whilst injecting it more traditional instrument sounds. He never saturates the tracks though, and always gives the tones enough room to weave around the crisp rhythmic elements that creep in from time to time.

In fact there’s enough room on the second track ‘Rowboat’ to allow female Japanese vocalist Piana to breathe some lyrical life into the track. Her voice acts as a superbly fragile accompaniment and it’s great to see yet another artist who isn’t afraid to use the voice as yet another tool for creating sound, as opposed to relying on it for unnecessary and obvious emotional content.

When he picks up the tempo later into the album there’s an even greater hint of Techno that shines through. You get the sense that he’s a fan of the Motor City sound and some of the rigid structures and tight metronomic clicks definitely give a nod in that direction. He always adds in his unique melodic chords though and that’s the true strength – there’s always beauty – even when, as in ‘Leaves’, he adds an experimental leaning to the track… in this case a resonant and insistent test tine which gradually builds throughout the track.

Sugimoto should be treasured for his consistently excellent and charming work and this release will certainly go down as one of my favourites.

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