microphones in the trees: August 2018

Friday, August 24, 2018

magnétophonique ~ une cartographie idéale

Une Cartographie Idéale collects 12 gems from the Magnétophonique catalog to map a nuanced portrait of his evocative mirage exotica, wavering between bliss and abandonment, paradise and prison. Isolation and island fantasy intermingle in bewitching delirium, the sound of waves and tropical birds refracted through heat-stroked haze while melting cassettes unspool refracted melodies into lost horizons. Escape is heaven – until it isn’t; in the artist’s words: “You’ll never belong here". ~ not not fun

Tropical ambient always seems escapist in its haziness and nostalgia for the places you never been, but in case of this tape (and considering its name), it's rather an exquisite critique of escapism. What feels like an ordinary story about lush islands hidden somewhere far from the modern world's haste, slowly turns into a philosophical quest to the realms of what is human race has become. Yes, we love nature, somewhere deep inside, even though we destroy it slowly, intentionally or not. But this hazy sound realm rises rather not an ecological question – it hints that human being has become separated from its origin once and for all. What is the ideal map if not the territory itself? 

Slowly building a mesmerizing meandering around the listener to the state of dazed psychedelia, Magnétophonique leaves us without means to salvation. Here we are, finally alone with nature and what will we do? It may seem blissful – to get lost in those jungles, to rest without the need of being online all the time, but will this reality accept us? The Only Survivor Is Now Alone On The Island and it's doubtful that island is friendly because actually nature never was friendly to human creatures... That's why we started to build cities in first place. That's why we are capable of enjoying only the idea of wild unspoiled nature, riding through it on some vehicles or hiking through it with a proper set of tools we need for survival. A tropical paradise where one may find comfort and ease has always been utopic. And we love it and look for it everywhere, except nature itself. Human civilization could have taken a different path and maybe then you would read these lines from the organically grown smartphone with photosynthetic cells instead of pixels. But the way it is now, leaves us with a beautiful mirage only, a picture of tropicalia fueled by psychedelic sounds, lo-fi field recordings and tape hiss. It's definitely a pleasant image worth of hours of explorations on repeat, but... as it said earlier, you'll never belong here.

Saturday, August 04, 2018

rod hamilton & tiffany seal ~ enchanted forest

Looks like we covered almost every release made by this magical Baltimore duo except the previous tape on famous Sound of the Dawn which (we believe) doesn't require much presentation. Yet, the new work by Hamilton and Seal is something you truly need in your collection, especially if you're a fan of arpeggiated synth magic enforced by xylophones and cassette lo-fi goodness. It's actually a bit of a miracle that such music exists in 2018 because it sounds like it was excavated from some 70s archive of super-limited-private-press new age jams inspired by Terry Riley and tropical expeditions of Jacques-Yves Cousteau. Yet this album isn't really about relaxation or meditation, but rather adventurous, keeping the buoyant pace and intrigued mood until the end. Outbursts of psychedelic melodies are very well contrasted by repetitive seances of hazy hypnosis. Fast-forward impressions from the places never visited in person, but visited in dreams and imagination. Repetitiveness always plays with trance-like states and this music is no exception - once this tapes starts spinning it won't be out until few rounds. "Enchanted Forest" is full of fairy creatures, ghostly voices, electric birds and ephemerally sparkling phenomenons, but when you in it, you take it all as a matter of course. Their dances and voices are gorgeously mesmerizing and the trail is long lost anyway. Where's the boundary between reality and imagination, when just a music can blur it so easily? What is reality anyway? If music is just a vibration of air, why it produces such an impact? Okay, let's drop these big questions until the long winter evenings, it's summer after all! And this music perfectly fits the sunshine. Aren't we all reaching out to the light?

tuluum shimmering ~ dancing in the seven skies

Newest offering from Tuluum Shimmering's universe turns to more raga-like forms, presenting eight track of sparkling sitar tunes, guitars, flutes and tribal percussion. Being a huge fans of Jake's output we can testify that there's always something really special about his music and this release is no exception. Throughout the years, Tuluum Shimmering provides the sunniest music we ever experienced. Be it long-form drones of earlier albums, noisy outburst jams or endlessly looped meditations, his music always shines brightly, bringing the joyful mood and clear vision. It's not even about music, but the state in which it is created and which it translates – it radiates through the sound, pure joy of being alive, of experiencing life as a gift. It may sound too new-agey, but once you dive into these waters, you start believing that nothing was ever wrong with our planet of with human race. After all, it's just a tiny part of huge ornament, unfolding though the Universe. All our joys and pains intertwined in one repeated composition. Music is indeed an universal force, multipurpose language that needs no words to invoke a special feeling of interconnection of every living being. Tuluum Shimmering is an ascending cosmic spiral we all live on. 

ron ~ material progress

"Material Progress" highlights the continued efforts of Portland, OR duo RON to divest from cluttered composition and heavy handed catharsis. Seeking space and and urging patience, RON unfolds each piece in a cloth-like manner. Laukkanen (autoharp, Juno, effects) & Wenc (pedal steel, synths, effects) peak at a world unquantized, without calculation. What happens if we were still? Certainly, similar sentiments have been probed within the canon of new age and drone music before. With their latest, RON pries open the door a little further, with new found confidence, patience, and curiosity. ~ lobby art

Music on cassettes is always mesmerizes when it sounds like it was born on tape. No high frequencies, not really wide range, kind of underwater sound... If you follow this blog, you know what we mean here. There's always something special about music drowned in that hiss, feeling of distance and comfort at the same time. Yet, most of all genres, drone music fits the cassette format best - exactly because of that hiss. Dominance of low-to-mid frequencies tends to sound flat, but the presence of tape hiss expands the experience. Seems weird that thing which was driving people crazy now serves as the compliment or even aesthetic element, but that's the way it is now. When virtually any genre of music sounds so well-produced, lo-fi cassette drone stands out as something completely otherworldly. Did you ever encountered situations when you listen to some lo-fi stuff for hours and then switch to something else and it hits like the bright artificial light after the pleasant gloaming? Remarkable, isn't it? 

What RON duo does on this tape is definitely pleasant, heady in a good way, gently enveloping mixture of guitar drones filled with delay meanderings and minimalist melodies. When you look at sun during the day it's painful, but the sundowns and sunrises are always pleasant and unfolding many nuances. That's the way this music works - it shows infinite amount of details in a seemingly simple sound. That's kind of odd to realize that blurry music can sharpen the perception, but miraculously it does. Turn the volume down, do some errands and all you'll get is muffled background (which sometimes is well-needed too), but listen to it attentively and you'll get the full story. It never stays the same, it's changing all the time. Like water surface, like leaves on the trees. One step closer and you're surrounded by beauty. This scale changing music has it's own hidden dimensions which unfolds even when you think you know it, because every listening gives some new details. Whether it's the magic of cassette format or the virtue of the music itself – it's hard to tell. Probably it's both. The only flaw of this album is its duration, but gladly there's repeat button on my deck. 

Friday, August 03, 2018

attack of the field mixtapes

field recordings mash-up mix (maybe first of its kind), that contains more than 90 recordings in one hour (exactly 01:02:03), that I taped in United Kingdom, India, Dubai, Czech etc. Its hallucination collage creating (un)probable encounters in (non)existing spaces, where ethno/electronic/psychedelic/religion music meets spoken word, musique concrete and comedy
Mixed in Excel (No added effects except few loops, slow-downs and reverses)

You may guess what to expect here from the description, but we warn you - it's definitely something hallucinative. Sounds come and go, but the overall effect accumulates through the listening, resulting in heady state. As if you returned after a long trip back home and you really wanted to return, but home looks different, like things changed... Weird feeling when everything is on its places, but something is missing. Of course it's you. But the feeling stays. So be prepared that something will change while you're missing from the real world listening to this mixtape. We warned you.