Combining digitally-processed recordings of wind and water with analog synthesizers and chamber orchestra, Elori Saxl’s The Blue of Distance begins as a meditation on the effect of technology on our relationship with land/nature/place but ultimately evolves to be more of a reflection on longing and memory. The phrase "the Blue of Distance" was coined by Rebecca Solnit in A Field Guide to Getting Lost and refers to the phenomenon of faraway mountains appearing blue due to light particles getting lost over distance. Lead track “Wave I” is accompanied by a video Saxl directed and edited, which embraces the serenity and calm of turning the page. Watch here.
Following his 2019 debut album Lower River, Balmorhea co-founder Michael A. Muller presents Blue Canyon, a succinct, two-song EP that speaks to the specific isolation of wilderness, the elements, and a willful stripping back of the unnecessary. Conceived just before the global pandemic of Covid-19 and released on the heels of the U.S. Presidential election, Blue Canyon comes as a respite and soft escape into natural beauty.
“Blue Canyon I”
Elskavon aka Chris Bartels and pianist John Hayes found their way to one another through a common interest in ambient-classical composition, and shared influences spanning Chopin to Eno, both in genre and chronology. On their debut collaborative LP Du Nord, the pair work in a modern framework draped in classical textures, adding up to a moving and tranquil outcome that sonically describes their mutually beloved home state Minnesota, particularly as it is during its overlong winter months. Du Nord makes a gregarious introduction with “Vermilion” wherein a deep four-on-the-floor kick drum anchors a plucked violin leading to one of the album’s most extroverted and percussive cuts that gets into head-spaces occupied by both Four Tet and Balmorhea.
Anam is the first collection of recordings by Selah Broderick (b. 1959, Washington, D.C.). Having grown up in a strict Catholic setting, the alternative movements of the late 60’s and 70’s could not come soon enough for Selah, whose love for art and music eventually sent her traveling around the country, running from a rather chaotic upbringing, in search of quieter ground. Her interest in more meditative sounds infused itself with her background in folk music, and it is somewhere between these two worlds that Anam exists. Consisting of recordings as old as 1979 and as new as 2018, the wide range in fidelity has been embraced for this collection. The recordings were collected by her son Peter Broderick, who carefully wove them together over the years with occasional contributions from himself and his sister Heather Woods Broderick.
“Every Bush And Tree”
On his debut album Nu Vision, Tokyo-based producer Yuji Namiki aka nubo, delivers Nipponese modernist kosmische that is therapeutic, multicolored, and alluringly strange, with chopped-up Kabuki howls and moonlit koto plucks placed ecstatically around floral billows of ambience and candy-coated synthesis. Click below to check out the album’s title track “Nu Vision.” +
“Day In Day Out”
Pennsylvania native Keith Kenniff’s output as Goldmund has established him as one of the preeminent composers of minimal piano-based ambient music alongside peers like Hauschka, Dustin O’Halloran, and even Ryuichi Sakamoto, who himself once described Kenniff’s work as “so, so, so beautiful.”
His recordings tread sincerely along paths laden with dusty timbres, diffuse synthesizer, and soaring string textures tinted by the muted glow of a cloudy analog sky above. On The Time it Takes, his newest book of aural polaroids, Kenniff somehow manages to deepen the emotionality of his already affecting project, creating a space in which to unfold the sorrows of a troubling age and revel in the hope and beauty that follow thereafter. In this sense, The Time it Takes tackles grief head-on, unadorned by themes of escapism or pastorality, and marks another entry in an impressively consistent body of work.
Listen to album opener “Day In, Day Out” below. +
Botany's first solo LP in nearly four years End the Summertime F(or)ever announces itself with the lead single “Once We Die”, a bombastic track that throws a heavy 808 bassline beneath skittering triplet percussion to anthemic effect. Amid scrapbooked pieces of disco and jazz, the track's namesake vocal line spurs thoughts about the afterlife, and the swirl of emotions like loneliness, anxiety, and liberation that accompany such wondering. +
On Still No Mother, the Colorado-based songwriter processes and explores climate change anxiety using the framework of the American folk song. The album grew from an initial concept of imagining the songs farmhands will sing when their acreage has dried up or burned, and rising sea levels begin engulfing the coasts—not unlike those sung by Woody Guthrie during the devastation of the Dust Bowl. While much art on this subject focuses on external imagery like glacial melt or wildfires, Farmer instead points his writing inward to examine the human mind’s relationship to this impending reality, and the psychological burdens therein. As Farmer explains, “The music is intentionally gentle and delicate with shards of piercing dissonance scattered throughout,” explains Farmer. “The intention was to capture the quiet moments of contemplation before the storm comes, as we peek through the cracks in the wall to catch a glimpse of the approaching danger, now a growing dot on the horizon.” +
As Photo Ops, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Terry Price creates dream pop with a tinge of folk. His new album Pure at Heart was inspired in part by Price’s time listening to and studying Bob Dylan‘s Sirius XM show, Theme Time Radio Hour while driving through the Southwest. As he explains “I was learning that what made a lot of older music magical, was the performers having to work with limitations. So you had to rely on human performance and the energy you could conjure in real time, in the moment, to communicate your idea.” Working within the limitations of recording in the living room of his 575 square foot apartment, Price has assembled a collection of his most engaging and heartfelt songs to date. +
Inspired by Erik Hall’s recent update of the Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians, we’ve invited other artists in our extended label family to cover the classical compositions that inform their respective musical journeys, culminating in a series entitled Composure: Classical Reworks for Modern Relief. Aimed at providing mental and spiritual respite in our uncertain era, the series is appropriately commenced by Joseph Shabason’s take on Erik Satie’s “Gymnopedie No. 1.” +