Piano Day – Alex Kozobolis Mix

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So, as well as taking part in the conversation with glacis and featuring in A Closer Listen editor Richard Allen’s top 10, Alex Kozobolis was also kind enough to pull together this mix of piano composers that have inspired him over the years.  In his words some of these artists reassured him that others would listen to his work whilst others got him really into the piano.  It’s a great mix, so enjoy.  And do check out the work of Alex when you get a chance.  It’s mesmeric.

 

Piano Day – Richard Allen

Richard Allen runs the wonderful music site A Closer Listen.  I am a massive fan of his site and the music he writes about.  To coincide with Piano Day I asked him to contribute his top 10 records in which piano is the main ingredient.  Here is his list:

Nils Frahm – Wintermusik (EP)

‘Olafur Arnalds – Eulogy for Evolution (Album)

Kashiwa Daisuke – Program Music I (Album)

Max Richter – The Blue Notebooks (Album)

Dustin O’Halloran – Opus 37

Abel Korzeniowski – Becoming George

Yasushi Yoshida – Greyed

Rachel’s – Water from the Same Source

Hauschka – Tanz
Alex Kozobolis – For Snow (EP)
And since he put forward his top 10, I suppose I should put forward mine – though a couple have piano as a feature rather than a driver:
Olafur Arnalds – Eulogy for Evolution
Nils Frahm – Felt
Goldmund – Famous Places
Dustin O’Halloran – Lumiere
Lubomyr Melnyk – Corollaries
The Alvaret Ensemble – s/t
Max Richter – Infra
Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto – Insen
Brambles – Charcoal
Alex Kozobolis – For Snow

 

Piano Day – Day 4 – Dustin O’Halloran

Dustin O’Halloran may be better known these days for his work as one half of A Winged Victory for the Sullen.  Fair play to him too because the duo have garnered a reputation for creating wonderful soundscapes laced with piano over the course of their two albums to date.  It’s hardly surprising that such attention fell upon the pair though given their respective backgrounds as musicians.  And it is in his solo guise that I first discovered his wonderful piano compositions.

Reading about guys like O’Halloran does make me feel like a fraud.  Like him, I started playing piano at the age of 6/7 but unlike him my thoughts turned to grunge and being cooler than I ever was whilst he was off composing his own piano pieces, enrolling in music school and developing his skill and craft.  My limitations as a pianist I am acutely aware of, so I love to listen to the beauty created by people like O’Halloran and tap in to the idea that more often than not, it’s the beauty you create and not the technical gift that you own.  With O’Halloran it’s obviously both and I adore his work as a solo artist.  Yes, he’s moved on and A Winged Victory do appear to be the focus of his work with his last solo album surfacing in 2011.  However, as a pianist his work as a solo artist, as well as AWVFTS is stunning and something you should definitely invest in.

Piano Day – Day 3 – Olafur Arnalds

Really uncool thing to say in the world of experimental music – I love Olafur Arnalds.  It’s true though.  I do.  He’s seen as a bit of a popstar when it comes to modern classical composition.  This has a lot to do with the view that a lot of his work is obvious, accessible and pop.   It’s not really a view I share if I am honest although I do understand where it comes from.  However, if it is true then the only thing I can see him being guilty of is turning more and more people on to the modern classical movement, which is no bad thing.

My first experience of his work was ‘Eulogy for Evolution’ and this record is probably the one that made me stop wanting to be in the band I was in and spend more time writing piano compositions.  It’s simplistic in its beauty and totally accessible.  I do challenge anyone to listen to it and not be blown away by it.  There’s Found Songs to and Living Room songs as well – both wonderful pieces of composition.  However, my favourite record is, without doubt, ‘And they have escaped the weight of darkness’.  Personal reasons may dictate this choice – kind of me and my wife’s record from the early days of us – but it really is a wonderful piece of music and still soaks me to the bone with joy when I hear it.

So, to be honest, I don’t care if it’s not cool to love Olafur Arnalds and I don’t care if his work is pop music, essentially.  What I care about is the emotional response I have when I hear his work and on that front he really is something special.

 

Piano Day – Day 2 – Goldmund

It’s day two in the build towards piano day here at TSP.

It’s hard for me to talk about piano without talking about the influence Keith Kenniff has on my own work as glacis.  ‘Famous Places’ is one of my favourite pieces of piano composition.  Much like Nils Frahm’s ‘Felt’ and ‘Screws’, this record is truly all about letting the piano breathe and sing.  There is an elegant simplicity to his work, as Goldmund, that enhances the integrity of the music and produces work of such depth and character that will undoubtedly stand the test of time.  And maybe that’s what fascinates me about instrumental piano music.  It’s almost timeless in many ways.  The history – well that’s another story and one that David Byrne dives into in his book ‘How Music Works’ but imagining listening to Goldmund 100 years ago or 100 years from now and feeling the same emmotional connection is not beyond the realms of belief.   There is a honesty in the compositions that feels like Kenniff pours everything in to his work.  Like the pieces are an extension of him and the connection between piano and him is almost unbreakable.  This is music to live for.

So, here and now, let Goldmund in to your life.

 

Piano Day – 29th March 2015

Ok, so Nils Frahm and his label, Erased Tapes, have announced that 29th March 2015 will be the first official Piano Day.  It’s kind of sweet that Nils feels compelled to create a day celebrating everything piano and who better to drive such a day than one of the most gifted and talented modern piano composers around?

When I saw him in Glasgow back in 2010 I was blown away by him as a performer and pianist.  Since that very small show at the Captain’s Rest, supporting Balmorhea, Nils has gone on to become something of a star.  The Bells, his album of the time, was something quite magnificent but with each release Nils has not only changed his approach and sound but grown as an artist and musician.  His reputation is on the up and up so I imagine that the interest in Piano Day will be significant.  And so it should be.  There are so many wonderful modern day pianists out there at the moment, creating stunningly beautiful work that will always fly under the radar of what is considered mainstream or popular.  Possibly this has to do with the piano as an instrument as there is probably still the perception that it is an instrument synonmous with classical music.  And perhaps it’s because often, the music that is being created predominantly using the piano, is instrumental and there is still a major misunderstanding of accessibility in instrumental music.

Regardless, to celebrate Piano Day we are going to feature a pianist who inspires us or that we love, every day for the rest of March.

So.  To start – why not begin with the man himself, Nils Frahm.

As I said above, I fell in love with his work with his album ‘The Bells’ but have been an avid follower since.  And possibly my favourite of his records his ‘Felt’, which I think captures the beauty of the piano in such special way.  ‘Screws’ was similar in the simplicity that focused on the piano as an instrument and let it sing in a day and age when the piano is often a component of something bigger.  There are not many who can take the piano, break it down into its most simplistic and still hold the attention for a whole record.  Where ‘The Bells’ displayed the technical ability of Frahm as a performer, ‘Felt’ and ‘Screws’ highlighted his unquestionable ability to produce a heart breaking nostalgic melody.  But there is more to Frahm than a simple pianist.  His electronic work both with Anne Muller on ‘7Fingers’ and on his most recent record ‘Spaces’ is something very special indeed and not to be overlook.  However, it is a pianist that I personally believe Nils Frahm excells.  When I saw him, he was disappointed not to have a real piano to perform on.  Any pianist who has that much passion for the instrument is a pianist at heart.  So, please, take a moment and enjoy this wonderfully talented man and support his plans on 29th March.

 

 

William Ryan Fritch

My friend William Ryan Fritch is one of the most talented composers I know. I have been lucky enough, through Lost Tribe Sound’s connection, to have been able to work with him on a number of things.  He contributed his talents to a track on ‘White Rooms’, the second Graveyard Tapes record.  He has been helping myself and Ben Chatwin out on a few tracks to be released on our debut record together as Blood Language and he and I (as glacis), along with Ali Millar and Gregory Euclide, have been working together on a collaboration that we are very excited about.   Working with him is a joy.  Not only is he one of the nicest people I have met in this world of music but he’s also stupidly talented.  In fact, due to the vast amount of work he has come out with of late, our label has a subscription package called ‘The Leave Me Sessions’ which allows you to collect all the various WRF records coming out bit by bit.  Here is the deal:

The Leave Me Sessions Series includes:
Emptied Animal (CD)
Emptied Animal Mini EP (Download Card)
Leave Me Like You Found Me (CD)
Her Warmth EP (Download Card)
Revisionist (Deluxe 12″ Vinyl Book)
Heavy EP (Download Card)
Empty EP (Download Card)
• Subscribers Only Exclusive – The Old Believers OST (Download Code)
• Subscribers Only Exclusive – The Sum Of Its Parts OST (Download Code)
New Words For Old Wounds (Download Code)
• Subscription Discount of 10% off our store’s retail price
• All three physical albums shipped a week before their release dates
• Download codes on all releases (Choice of 24 Bit FLAC, 320 MP3)
Music for Film Vol. I (The first 50 Subscribers receive a postcard format download) (All subscribers will receive a download code for this release)

The Death Blues & WRF Series Bundle includes:
• All of the above in the Leave Me Sessions Series
• Plus, Death Blues Ensemble (Deluxe 12″ Vinyl Book)
• Plus all the discounts and exclusive perks of series listed above. The digital download card for Ensemble with arrive with the physical LP only, and will not be sent by email

I am not sure what else I can say about William.  His original soundtrack for ‘The Waiting Room’ was incredible enough but add all these solo works along with his work with Jon Mueller on Death Blues ‘Ensemble’ and it’s hard not to think you are dealing with one of the world’s true genius musicians.  What really gets me though is that whilst I thought he was a brilliant composer, I had no idea that he could sing so well.  I mean, I was holding on to the fact that he couldn’t be brilliant at everything…

…so, here’s a few links and a video of him at work.  Please check out his work.  You will not be disappointed.

Lost Tribe Sound

WRF Subscription Series

Death Blues ‘Ensemble’

TSP Conversation

William Ryan Fritch – Behind The Scenes Part I (The Leave Me Sessions) from Lost Tribe Sound on Vimeo.

mini50 in 2015

So it’s a new year.  It’s that time when people decide to change things, make things better in their lives.  This ranges from cutting out alcohol and getting more exercise to simply setting goals and targets for the year ahead.  I have never been one for the former approach but with the label and music I am most definitely about setting targets and having aims.  When I started mini50 in 2011, I guess the aim was simply to help artists I loved, that I thought maybe not enough people loved, get their music out there and heard.  I have to say, it’s been a lovely thing watching artists like Conquering Animal Sound and Caught in the Wake Forever grow over the years and whilst I cannot take credit for that I feel an immense satisfaction in knowing I believed in them at the beginning.  Much like Trampoline, for me, it has always been about finding new, exciting acts to share with others.  That was what it was about then and it’s, mostly, what it’s about now.  However, when I started the label, I never expected to be entering the 5th year of existence with such excitement and relish about the artists we are working with and going to work with.  A great deal of this is due to the fact I am not alone on this adventure anymore.  Stephen from Hiva Oa joined the label well over a year ago and since then the label has gone from strength to strength.

Sketches for Albinos started 2014 with the brilliant, and sadly overlooked, record ‘Fireworks and the Dead City Radio.  SfA is of course an alias for Matthew Collings.  In 2014, Collings released 3 new records and re-released 1 other.  2 under his own name, 1 as one half of Graveyard (his project with me) and one as Sketches for Albinos.  It was a hugely successful year for him and his album was our first ever release on vinyl.  A beautiful photograph book accompanies this record, with photos from Collings girlfriend Elin Svennberg.  It’s a truly beautiful thing.

Sketches for Albinos is the lighter side of Collings work.  Whilst his solo stuff mixes tension and aggression, SfA is something lighter and distilled but equally as compelling.  It was a pleasure to work with a man who is clearly on the way to bigger things and recognition within his field.  End of year lists, such as Headphone Commute’s suggest that this year was the mere beginning for him and we hope that this means that his work as SfA will also get the attention that it clearly deserves in the future.

Next up was Now Wakes the Sea.  How ‘Bildungsroman’ did not receive critical acclaim I will never know.  By far and away the best record released by a Scottish artist in 2014 the press just didn’t seem to want to know about it.  Well, Song, by Toad did.  But other than that the attention this brilliant, wonky pop gem received was massively down heartening.  Our hopes for that record were high, so to sit here and look back it was massively disappointing to see such a luke warm reception for one of Scotland’s most talented song writers.  It’s not too late of course for it to get the attention it deserves but it seems like such a shame to me as I sit here writing this.  Perhaps, of course, I am wrong about that record.  But I do believe I know enough about music to know what is good and what is not.  Bildungsroman would make my top 5 albums of 2014 if I were allowed to include my own releases in such lists.

Finally in 2014 we released our first long player by Old Earth.  Again, ‘A Wake in the Wells’ failed to receive the attention that we felt the album merited.  Todd Umhoefer’s output is actually quite incredible.  It seems endless and the speed with which it is produced should suggest a drop in quality from time to time.  However, this is not the case.  ‘A Wake…’ very much picked on from where Small Hours left off, and actually upped the game, but the baffling part for us was where Small Hours sold well on CD, ‘A Wake’ failed to shift as many and was on 12″ vinyl.  It’s a really odd thing the selling of music. At times it makes no sense and anyone who says that there is a logic to it is lying.  Sometimes, the way music sells and the format it sells on best is quite, quite baffling.

Anyways, 2014 has been a learning curve.  Great music released and many lessons learned.  Which leads us in to 2015 with optimism, excitement and a great deal of great new music.

Up first on 23 February we have the quite amazing record ‘R U Person or Not’ by Milwaukee’s Group of the Altos (or just altos).  This is a very exciting record for a number of reasons.  Firstly, we think it’s an ambitious record that transcends genres and will appeal to a great deal of people.  Secondly, for us, it’s a big step up in terms of the people we are working with.  One member of altos is also a member of Volcano Choir – for those who don’t know Justin Vernon’s project having finished (?) with Bon Iver.  Secondly, there are 12 brilliant musicians within altos, one of whom performed on the amazing Death Blues record ‘Non-Fiction’ by Volcano Choir’s Jon Mueller – voted 6th best avant record of 2014 by none other than Rolling Stone magazine.  So we are dealing with people who know their shit and expect a certain level of professionalism.  As such, we need to up our game and hopefully the lessons learned in 2014 are allowing us to do just that.  Anyways, keep your eyes and ears out for altos record because I genuinely believe it’s the best thing we’ve released to date and that is a massive compliment given the records we’ve released in the past that I absolutely love.

Up after altos are Swedish act The Silence Set.  Again, the expectations are high.  Both Dag Rosenqvist and Johan G Winther are no newbies in the world of music.  Dag has been featured in Pitchfork, has huge repsect in the field he works in and raises the level of artist we have worked with to a new level again.  Johan himself is no spring chicken either having worked with the likes of Peter Broderick and Nils Frahm and indeed, Frahm appears on the album, along with Heather Broderick.  So you see, the expectation levels are immediately raised.  The Silence Set’s album is simply beautiful and one I cannot wait to share with the world.  It’s deserving of great acclaim – but whether it will get it is a mystery.  If there is any justice in the world, then it will.  And we will be working our backsides off to make sure that it does.

The remainder of the year is dedicated to two albums.  One by New York based artist Bastardgeist and the other the second album by our very own Hiva Oa.  Both these records are nearing completion so timescales are kind of up in the air but to say we are excited about them both would be an understatement.  Bastardgeist’s music is simply phenomenal.  The first time we heard it we knew we had to have him on the label/work with him.  So it is truly exciting to be working with him towards a physical release.  As for Hiva Oa.  Well, they are our number one act.  The act that pushed us forward as a label and really changed the playing field for us.  The act I believe in completely.  And the album I am probably most excited about.  I have heard nothing of it as yet other than some tracks they played live a while back.  The addition of Matthew Collings to the line up has definitely been a big addition to their sound.  So I wait with great anticipation for their record to hit my inbox and I am excited about it getting out to the world.

It’s a busy year ahead for sure but we are excited about what is in store.  We hope you will join us for the ride because without people buying the records and supporting the artists their would be no point or future for the label.  We wish everyone the best for the year ahead and look forward to reporting back on the ups and downs of 2015.  Hopefully more ups but that, like everything else in music, is the mystery we are trying to unravel.