remote_ thoughts | contemporary electronic

Tobias Hellkvist – Everything Is Connected – Home Normal

Posted in Reviews: Electronic by remotethoughts on November 7, 2012

Tobias Hellkvist - Everything Is Connected

The last time I reviewed a Tobias Hellkvist release I was wowed by it. Having been privileged to hear it some time before it came out I was already familiar with its intricate constructions and wonderful soundscapes.

This second album, also released on Home Normal, is the perfect follow-up in many ways. It uses similar textural motifs and styles, but plays with some wonderful new additions as well.

Beginning as it means to go on, the first few pieces are elegant beatless works that are full of feeling and a delightfully melodic lilt. Built from soundscapes and drones, there’s a sense that these pieces are composed as opposed to being allowed to drift. They build, ebb, flow and subtly change over time, yet always keep the original sound in mind.

What really sets this album apart for me – and makes it a contender for my album of the year – is the way the entire structure seems to work up to the simply incredible ‘Christmas Rat’. The gradual flow of layers is finally joined by an almost Gas-like 4/4 rhythm that pulsates underneath, never becoming overwhelming, but keeping your head nodding for the duration.

It’s such a subtle, yet significant addition and in many ways is entirely unexpected. I could listen to this piece over and over and never grow tired of the way the chord seems to slice over the top of the beat. Some gentle top end percussion creeps into the mix to give it even more of a techno feel. From there it slips quietly away into a majestic last track that, once again, builds on layers, then gently fades out.

The beauty of work like this? It’s so good you have to go back to the beginning to hear it all again. It’s really quite incredibly compulsive. You could, of course, listen to the last two tracks in isolation, but that would be doing it a disservice.

In essence this is a deliciously put together album of meditative ambient music, yet it manages to sparkle and shine in ways other works never will. It sets itself apart by being beautiful, deep, dense and constructed with skill and passion. A stunning album, and yet another compelling addition to the Home Normal catalogue.

Check it here: Home Normal

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Sonmi451 – Four Peaks – Time Released Sound

Posted in Reviews: Electronic by remotethoughts on November 7, 2012

Sonmi451 - Four Peaks

Having been a big fan of Sonmi451 for many years now, it’s always pleasing to discover a new release on a superb homegrown label. And Time Released Sound has certainly been delivering the goods for some time.

Bernard Zwijzen’s take on minimalism and soundscape electronica has developed over the years. From his earlier, dare I say it, clicky style, with references to labels such as 12k and artists like Shuttle358, through to a more ambient, ethereal sound.

This work, heavily influenced by the idea of the beauty of nature, is a delicate and otherworldly creation that comes in four distinct parts. Each track references a mountainous peak, and this starting point gives each piece a glacial grandeur.

Although driven by his beatless sound, this is far from flat. Melodic passages give the work movement and sparkle, while the underlying textures and tones keep everything spacious and distant sounding. Simple sinewave notes create a warm overlay to the icy backgrounds, and the blend of the two is magical.

As always with Sonmi’s music, repeat listens provide more and more understanding of the subtleties at work. That sound that wasn’t noticeable on the first listen becomes more apparent with each experience. An enveloping sense of time almost slowing down while listening adds to the depth and breadth of the music. Allow yourself to sink into this and it will provide you wth many happy hours of blissful electronic listening.

All told, this is another quite beautiful release from an artist that I’ve come to admire more and more over the years. A big recommendation, then.

Check it here: Time Released Sound

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

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