The definition of what music is can be a shrouded in a display of different ideologies, backgrounds and at most times stigmas from person to person. The underside of the music world known as “noise” is one of those corridors of sound that borders along another means of expression than the usual identity of how most of the masses recognizes what’s music. I have always loved this diversion into sound, creating a matrix and labyrinth of feelings, emotional responses and zen like meditative states in my mind that are all their own personal experiences. Nothing is ever the same when coming into contact with this territory of composition, despite how many times you dive into the same record. Berlin’s seasoned composer and tone scientist Mika Vainio is among the best at realizing the potential of unused sounds for some startling and exhilarating results. He is featured on scores of albums in the avant-garde modern world and has set a standard most that speaks for itself.
It is with his latest LP FE3O4 – Magnetite on the Touch label that Mika Vainio has extended his tonal voice into another realm of being. With the usage of his signature sources of sound – radio signals, sine wave generators, etc – that have found their way onto all of his releases, there is a usage of space on this record that has been unrealized in the body of work from Mika. Harsh landscapes of noise submerge into states of the metaphysical as tones bounce inside your cranium like nothing else in this world. There are moments on FE3O4 that stretch beyond definition, pulsing out frequencies that feel like they will damage your ear drums. It’s all placed with the highest attention to detail and the limitations of what the human body can take. Music of extremes some might call it but I tend to feel very normal in this setting of oddly shaped tonal soundscapes.
FE3O4 is one intense album that takes a lot of mental stamina to last from beginning to end. It took me many listens to get to a comfortable state with this album, something I love about the achievement of Mark Vainio’s compositions. They all have that shocking of the senses affect that the best noise music can achieve. If you are up for an adventurous and exploratory listen into sounds of another world, this is a perfect journey to take on.
Order a copy here:
Icelandic cellist and vocalist Hildur Gudnadottir has shocked me this year with the awe inspiring live performance album Leyfdu Ljosinu on the UK based imprint Touch. Recorded live with no audience at the Music Research Centre, University of Yorke in January of this year, the flowing essence of minimal presentation is astounding and as powerful as anything I have heard this year. Minimal in approach, Hildur Gudnadottir presents a four minute intro of eerie and slowly burning cello that sets the tone for the type of atmosphere that is to follow on Leyfdu Ljosinu. The following track contains the self titled piece and runs for almost forty minutes as one movement that shifts in various cycles that closes out the album. There is an underlining emotion and feeling that takes over the album, something that defines the albums purpose so well. It’s unbelievable how Hildur Gudnadottir achieves some of the layering that she does with electronics, cello and her vocals and it’s all very angelic and harmonious, never drifting outside of the realm of crystalline beauty. The climax of vocals, cello and electronics at the end is definitely worth the slowly building energy that this album paces at and displays a stunning performance of her cello capabilities with no post production involved.
Much of Leyfdu Ljosinu drifts and floats into different cascading cloths of color, folding inside of itself as each drifting moment cycles around to the other. The atmosphere feels cinematic and speaks for as much tension and restrain as it does muscular power and velocity. Leyfdu Ljosinu is really a remarkable testament to the importance of minimalism in ones music diet. As many albums strive to become large, this is the type of sound that feels large from the smallest of sources and the sound that isn’t being played by instruments becomes just as important as those present. In this world, the type of microphones utilized, a rooms acoustics and many more elements that lay unspoken in the albums final result become factors that give a much greater weight to the music than most contemporary records and is one that engineer Tony Myatt pulled off remarkably.
With vocals that sound like they are hardly surfacing through the depth of a blanketed forest in a lucid dream, intricately vibrant and softly placed loops and an overall musical imagination that paints thousands of pictures, Leyfdu Ljosinu truly becomes a magical and otherworldly vibration.
Voice, cello & electronics: Hildur Gudnadottir
Recorded & mixed by Tony Myatt
Mastered by Denis Blackham
From Touch Records:
Hildur Gudnadottir’s new album ‘Leyfdu ljosinu’ (Icelandic for ‘Allow the light’), was recorded live at the Music Research Centre, University of York, in January 2012 by Tony Myatt, using a SoundField ST450 Ambisonic microphone and two Neumann U87 microphones. (NB – It was not played in a concert environment and there was no audience.)
To be faithful to time and space – elements vital to the movement of sound – this album was recorded entirely live, with no post-tampering of the recordings’ own sense of occasion.