“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.
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.
Lucy Claire is a London based composer originally from the North East of England compiles a selection music for The Composer Series. A mix of post classical composers, indie and music selected from her personal compositions.
Lucy trained at London’s Royal College of Music in composition and music for the moving image Lucy has collaborated with many filmmakers, choreographers and artists on projects as well as releasing solo work and performing live around London. Lucy is currently writing and recording her debut album for a release in Autumn 2015.
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.
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.
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.
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.