Reviews

Lights and Motion – Dear Avalanche

Multi-instrumentalist Christoffer Franzen’s outfit Lights and Motion is not so much a band as an all-terrain vehicle for the Swedish musician and producer’s relentless, insomnia-bating work ethic.

Lights and Motion have released a steady stream of full-length albums since their formation in 2012 (basically an outlet for Franzen’s musical perambulations as he battled with insomnia) and their tracks have been featured in scores of TV spots and trailers (ranging from Furious 7 to The Vampire Diaries), as well as ads and promos (Budweiser, Rip Curl, Google, The Guardian, the list goes on).

Akira Kosemura – Our Own Picture

Kosemura, a Tokyo-based composer, first drew the attention of the international audience in 2007 with his first album ‘It’s on Everything’. Within just one decade this 32-year-old composer positioned himself as one of the most important musicians of his generation.
His album ‘Momentary: Memories of the Beginning’ which was released on June 16th, 2016 featured Devendra Banhart among other notable music industry giants. Akira also manages his own record label, called ‘Schole’ and helps young talents to reach their full potential.

Thomas Ragsdale – Bait

Elegant, diverse and distinct, the arctic vitality of Thomas Ragsdale’s ‘Bait’ – whose origins arose as the soundtrack to the Dominic Brunt film of the same name – tells a solemn and in places disquieting tale that stands well on its own, riddled with delicate nuance and a hyperborean conviction.

With tracks such as ‘Who Holds The Devil, Hold Him Well’ acting as a somewhat blissful introduction to the inevitably weighty and emotive chronicle that is to follow, immediately from the launch of this sonic anthology we are met with an intricacy and persuasion inclined towards that of rapturous energy. We are enticed deeper into the mellifluous warrens of Ragsdale’s dulcet environment as ‘Warning Mass’ seeks to lock our attentiveness with denser noisescapes and lacunar chords of pensive sureness, thus demonstrating the perfection of temper held throughout the album’s entirety.

James Joshua Otto – And then, the mountains moved

“And then, the mountains moved” – an EP that captivates and uplifts with a refreshingly harmonious bellow; one that threatens to tear the world away and leave you lost in contemplation. With an ethereal tranquility that appears to pulsate in time with the landscape it claims to represent, natural, classical and contemporary inspiration becomes apparent, with juxtaposing genres complimenting each other magnificently. James Joshua Otto achieves high levels of quality through his expression of skill; a great sense of depth and drama become immediately apparent and set the precedent from the opening of the first track “One step enough” – a gentle introduction which foreshadows the excellence yet to be discovered.

Blake Ewing – The Scenery Of Somewhere Else

American composer Blake Ewing has been quietly producing ambient and classical works for years, getting his incredible music supported by the likes of Ford, Netflix and AMC. His website states he ‘believes in music – and in its wonderful power to support and elevate storytelling.’ His latest offering ‘The Scenery Of Somewhere Else’, not only supports and elevates storytelling, but brings its own magical story to life.

The fading opening of ‘You took the first breath’ brings the listener to a lakeside, shimmering under the golden rays of sun that beam down in the evening sunset. From the opening of the track, we feel a juxtaposition of warm, sweeping pads, and the gentle piano notes that pierce the texture, bringing cooling shivers from the breeze, above the suns gentle warmth. Ewing uses each and every chord change to walk us around the lake, bringing us ever closer to the ‘somewhere else’ suggested in the title.

Steve Gibbs – Adrift

Post-classical composer Steve Gibbs’s debut solo EP, Adrift, is an ethereal piece of work which gorgeously brings together piano and strings with ambient electronic textures. Released in 2014, this solemn five-track EP sounds positively cinematic. It is not difficult to understand why Gibbs’ work has been used in movies and ad campaigns. The general lack of prominent melody throughout the album makes it perfect as soundtrack music as well as, of course, being ideal listening material when in a reflective and open mood.

The opening track ‘Adrift’ begins with an ambient soundscape that is astral and recalls Brian Eno’s Apollo in its expansiveness. The sounds of reversed guitars steadily filter into the mix. Soon there enters the muffled sound of piano chords which light up this tapestry of sound. We are certainly ‘adrift’ now: there is a sense of hanging in the ether to this track which sets the atmosphere for the rest of the EP. This sense of intedeterminacy is not a troubling one, but a feeling of liberation from constraints, a cool and calm lack of focus which is perfect for this sombre time of year. Softly dancing, arpeggio-like treble piano figurations come in out of this abstraction and are given warmth and depth by the prominent, swelling baseline.

Ambient and Electronic album from Neue – Structure

Designer and musician Mike Lemmon gave birth to his brainchild Neue about three years in the past. Earlier this year, he released an album named ‘Structure’ under the banner of this project. The 33 minute album features ambient soundscapes, drones, haunting beats and warm melodies in layers placed upon layers.

Structure commences with ‘Dawn’, which sets the mood for the album starting with the benign sounds of flowing water and chirping of birds. The track introduces a warm piano melody which prepares the listener for what is coming next in this introspective musical journey. As the intro track fades out, electronic percussion beats are introduced with ‘Into the Distance’. In a funky atmosphere set by this track, the listener knows that they’ve taken off on a soul-stirring journey and as the groovy bass discharges, it serves as fuel for imagination and visualization. With the second track ending into a distance, the journey suddenly takes a haunted route with high tempo beats, a cutthroat bass and high pitched notes with expansive reverberation.

Lights & Motion – Save Your Heart (Deep Elm Music)

Lights and Motion – Save Your Heart

This is a beautifully optimistic album, the first track Heartbeats starts gradually with the light of new hope. It shines warmly on the soul and melts the last shadows of depression. The tempo picks up and takes us running through sunlit fields, to a place where a new beginning can be found. It sets the tone for the transcending experience of the whole album. For me it stands out in the genres of Post-rock and Cinematic music, it has something more to offer. Lights and Motion are comparable with Two Steps from Hell, AudioMachine and Keith Kenniff to give the listener an idea of what to expect.

Ultraviolet and Sparks carry us forward in a rush of elation and almost unbearable joy. Shimmer gives us a welcome moment to pause and catch our breath. The tone deepens and seems to contemplate the clouds above in darkening winter skies, and the cycle of life which dictates that everything must come to a natural end. We are taken on an emotional journey, a journey that we will never forget and which can only leave us changed. Snow is one of the most memorable songs for me, it sounds like the sparkle of snow on the ground and captures the childlike excitement of the first snowfall in winter. It invites us to dance with the children in the snow and follow their white footprints as they lead the way.

Leah Kardos – Three Preludes EP

Leah Kardos & Ben Dawson – Three Preludes

A fascinating presentation, Three Preludes contrasts the natural with the artificial, juxtaposing a trio of hand played piano pieces with derivative electronic-based abstract interpretations, commenting on music’s changing states by showing it’s progression and origins. The final recordings of Leah Kardos’s three original compositions are informed by recordings of the process that preceded them, from the first sight read with all it’s mistakes to ambient noise from the rehearsals. By considering this the listener becomes acutely aware of not only the process that is behind a recording but also the human element of the pieces; one can imagine Ben Dawson sitting down at the piano to play, warming up his hands and adjusting his seat before putting his fingers to the keys and beginning to navigate the bars in front of him, his understanding of what he is performing growing with each note played.

The longest of the three piano pieces, Draw, plays on moments of intense sadness and passages of uplifting hopefulness echoing the idea of process that underpins the Ep. It begins somewhere in between the two extremes with a strong nostalgia that casts a rose tinted lens over ones memories, summoning happy moments from the past. Then rather suddenly the melody lifts, rising and cascading with all the flurry of activity and aspiration, no longer looking back but carving a path into what is to come. Before long it settles once again but now the joyful sense of retrospect has been lost and the listener is left in the cold, unforgiving preset. The music starts to drag and falter like aspirations that have been crushed.

Ronnie Minder – The Composer

Ronnie Minder is a Swiss born, Australian based composer who started his music career over a decade ago. He signed his first record contract in 2001 for the single “Tha-P-Anthem” which established his name in electronic music. Shortly after release, he signed his second contract with Swiss music label Harem Records and his single ‘Listen To The Sound’ peaked at #1 in the Music Mail Distribution Charts (Germany) 2001.
More recently, Minder is shifting into film composition, winning a place on Peter Jackson’s composing books, while his work on ‘Letter to Annabelle’ is audible at film festivals around the world. What does his forthcoming EP release, Cinema Five, tells us about this new direction?

Overarchingly, the first thing to note about Minder’s work is its uncompromising production aesthetic, and in that department ‘Cinema Five’ doesn’t disappoint. Beautifully mastered, balanced and controlled, the overall EP recalls classical/electro artists like Craig Armstrong; using powerful crescendos and percussion hits to drive varying orchestral motifs through what are mostly short arrangements, the majority of the tracklistings wind up around the three minute mark.

Aeuria ‘Birth’ EP (City By Night)

Canada based ambient artist and producer Aeuria has been quietly creating tremors and atmospheric sub-bass undulations for just over a year now, and ‘Birth’, his five track debut EP released on City By Night records is a great clemency, a lesson in subtly and cold allure.

Opening track ‘Essence’ swells with the sound of heavy rain, setting a cold temperament before soft piano chords provide depth and meagre warmth. Bijou, the female vocalist has an ethereal appeal and is reminiscent of Iceland’s Mum or possibly Sigur Ros. This is highly visual music, and the use of natural sounds (field recordings and foley sounds of chattering birds, heavy rain and footsteps on stone) invariably creates images of expansive lakes, boreal forests and adversarial weather.

Mokke Wingbeat

Tomoki Ikeda a.k.a. Mokke is not only a dj but also a producer and a musical allrounder. But most of all he is Japanese – translate that with „very polite“ and „unboastful“. His new hometown Berlin, capitol of electronic music and not always an easy place to live in, left an impression, though. But it took Mokke more than ten years to understand the unofficial ethos of the city: „Modesty is an adornment, but you come further without it“.

„Wingbeat“ ist the name of Mokkeʼs second album. A good opportunity to give up on modesty.