Building on the warm soundscapes of his 2023 collaboration with Andrew Tasselmyer, Midnight Letters (described by Stationary Travels as “, welcoming, nostalgic...easy to sink into”), Minneapolis' Chris Bartels pushes the boundaries of his sonic explorations even further with Blurstem's new full-length, Ocelli.

Bartels, who also creates under the monikers Elskavon, Olma, and collaboratively as Bora York and Glass Echoes, explains, “With Ocelli, I wanted to delve into the tension between intimate, introspective moments and soundscapes juxtaposed with grand, expansive atmospheres. It's about pushing the Blurstem project to new sonic and emotional frontiers.”

The origin of the Blurstem project goes back to 2015 when Bartels’ and his wife bought a house, in which they found an old spinet piano. Slightly out of tune, a touch dusty, and undeniably imperfect, the instrument possessed a mysterious charm. The piano's magic truly blossomed when Bartels, seeking a way to create music at night without disturbing their children, resorted to the unconventional method of dampening the strings with a cut-up sweater.

While piano plays a role in Elskavon's music, the spinet inspired such a prolific outpouring of new compositions that Bartels felt compelled to establish a distinct artistic outlet – Blurstem. At its core, Blurstem embodies the essence of this special piano: a captivating interplay between minimalist, raw intimacy and moments of grandiosity and spaciousness.