Artist Spotlight: Esthaem by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Lore Deuninck

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Manuel Estheim – better known as Esthaem – is an Austria-based photographer, born in 1992. He holds a BA in Graphic-Design and Photography from the University of Art and Design Linz and is currently working on obtaining his MA in Visual Communications. The artist has been featured in numerous group exhibitions in cities like London, Berlin, and Vienna, and has won multiple online awards for his work.

Esthaem is said to be a quiet and thoughtful person, which often leads to complex knots of thought, that then need to be let out through photography. Aiming for mirror images of his analysis of the world, he tries to portray subject matters that are difficult to grasp, as aesthetically pleasing imagery full of fragility, sensuality, and symbolism.

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Topics such as identity, intimacy, (de-)construction of sexuality, gender and the ‘self’ connect with being drawn to nature, life itself and the human body – which is treated as a sculptural object – are held by strictly theoretical principles as well as photography seen as an artistical, expressive, personal media. What we get to see are nude subjects in serene, natural settings or in soft rooms with carefully positioned light. All of this creates fragile but strong work, often referred to as “visual poetry”.

The idea of going back to your roots is a well-incorporated concept in Esthaem’s work; for Manuel, the line between being human, animal, or even object in this world is very thin. He says that after all, no matter how smart we are, we’ll always be animals. Nature is our real root of existence, and we are all of the same kind. The subjects seem to easily lose all of their identity being put in these natural settings / sterile and soft rooms. Existing in a time and space of their own, Esthaem’s forms dare to explore the personal relation of the subject with the Self, their body and the discovery of the different, but very similar, other.

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Paces by Jakob Lindhagen by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

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On September 22nd this year, Jakob Lindhagen – known for composing the breathtaking film score for Skörheten, among other things – released his solo album Paces, an intriguing piece of art, centered on the piano while incorporating white noise from faltering microphones and birdsong from early morning recordings. We are already familiar with Lindhagen’s phenomenal talent in portraying and displaying emotion, and his more experimental side, only briefly explored in the expanded version of the Skörheten soundtrack, is certainly showcased in this solo release.

With no time to waste, Paces starts off with Kenopsia, establishing a sense of melancholy ringing true to the meaning of its name – the eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that is usually bustling with people, now abandoned. The ringing noise, in waves of increased intensity, has an almost trance-inducing effect; the maddening sound has you trapped, with small crashes at times jolting you from the lonely room to which you’ve been condemned. All the while, the soft narration of the piano tells the story of your destiny, a welcome contrast to the harsh, torturous buzzing, locking you in place.

In Shelter, a different kind of loneliness takes form – the noises seem to be of a busy street with too many impressions, all smudged together, and you in the middle, disconnected. There’s ringing, spinning, but one steady point in the cautious piano, the only sane thought in an ocean of turmoil. The album moves towards a more blissful spirit, The Tipping Point sounding, with its gorgeous harmonies and zealous strings, like a soft-spoken person suddenly speaking with passion burning beneath every word, and I need only to sit back and listen, in awe.

In The Machinery shows the epitome of the homely sound Lindhagen has mastered. The fascinating noises of electronic buzzing and clicking create an intimacy so palpable I can practically touch it, and it engulfs me in the warmth of home and family; with the beautiful build-up of the tireless strings and inspiring piano, this track is positively exploding with eternal hope. The hope is carried further with Overcoming, starting off as a reflective, slow-burning track, suddenly transitioning into a joyous, youthful folk-melody.

Paces certainly lives up to its name – the atmosphere of the album changes yet again, as Afterwards tells a mournful, ghostly story, as haunting as it is beautiful and grand. As previously, it seems Lindhagen releases all of the energy he has left into the very last track – S, 47 is a deeply emotive, expertly told story that sticks out from the rest; like an afterthought that turned into a paradigm of its own, this track is like a whole separate entity, patiently waiting for you to reach it, and listen. It takes its time, all the while knowing you will be engulfed in its flawless rhetoric, and it proves the perfect ending to Lindhagen’s stunning album. 

 

Opacity by Jason van Wyk by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Aubrey Woodward

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Jason van Wyk’s Opacity is a strong follow-up to his previously re-released album Attachment. Like Attachment, Opacity is a post-classical album with a focus on ambient noise. Unlike his previous album, however, it is a much gentler body of work. The focus on minimalism is more apparent within it, with each track generating an influx of emotion that keeps the listener on edge.

Opening with ‘Shimmer’, the listener is drawn into a false sense of security while the intensity builds up; like boiling water, the climax approaches slowly and then all at once. It sets a solid precedent for the rest of the album. A stand out track is ‘Until Then’, which provides an odd juxtaposition between the upbeat and the melancholy. The minimalist technique stands out here, as the track is fully supported by a small, cheerful melody with an underlying haunting ambience. The evocative composition is simple without sacrificing its emotive side.

‘Weightless’, the ninth track, employs more ambient work than the other tracks. Starting slow, it begins to build up, heightening the emotional aspect of the experience and echoing a heartbeat. The intensity of this one track brings the mood of the entire album up, propelling it forward to the end.

Overall Opacity is a cohesive, enthralling body of work that connects with the listener, guiding them in and pulling them along until the very end.

 

The Double by David McCooey by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Amanda Nordqvist

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Apart from his job as a professor of writing and literature, Australian David McCooey is also a self-taught audio producer, composer and musician, and he recently released his second album, The Double. The album is a deep dive into other-worldly ambiences, an intriguing mix of synthetic and organic sound, balancing tensely on a thin line between soothing and unnerving. The album is in part an homage to its namesake, the fascinating short story collection by Maria Takolander, and it expertly captures what Takolander’s collection set the tone for – the horrors, and the beauty, of human loneliness.

Modern Nature sparks an immediate enchantment, thrusts you into the scenery, and smoothly acclimatizes you to the rugged rhythmic of the piece. McCooey introduces his key element during the first few seconds of the album – the usage of found samples and text-to-speech synthesis. Three Sisters suddenly throws you out of the immersion and instead invokes a sense of floating above – it’s an eerie feeling, hearing the muffled voices of a conversation you’re not a part of, witnessing a scene you’re not meant to witness. The title track comes next, a solemn piece with a gentle forward pull, perfectly accompanying the story being told.

McCooey keeps introducing a new mix of sounds throughout the album, with The Old World proving the most obvious example – a timeworn, minimalistic base, contrasted by dramatic pads, bells and horns, often distorted beyond recognition. The Obscene Bird of Night 1 is a construction site daydream, voices of train tracks and turning cranes making me a stranger in a familiar city, wandering around in my own thoughts, outside noise seeping in and coloring the images in my head. Later comes the perfect epitome of the loneliness so adamant in Takolander’s short story collection, portrayed in the mesmerizing Not to Disturb – the steady hope of having found your path, but needing to walk it alone, fighting only the voice of doubt in your head.

The Double is as interesting as it is moving – at every turn it goes from deeply emotional to eerily experimental, and every track is its own story, matching the pace of Takolander’s haunting writings. McCooey has a phenomenal ear for the unknown and seems unafraid to leap into waters that many would deem too deep; and it pays off, as he ends up with an incredibly memorable album in his hands. 

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The Double is available on Bandcamp, Spotify and iTunes.

 

Domum by Aija Alsina by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Roberto Espinoza

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A few days ago, Latvian composer Aija Alsina released her debut album, Domum, a set of 12 piano pieces that features work created over the last four years. The first release by the London based composer arrives a year after being chosen as one of the ten finalists in the prestigious Marvin Hamlisch Film Scoring Contest in 2016, where she was invited back as a judge this year and, as the title suggests (Latin for homeward) expresses her return to her childhood instrument, the piano.

Domum is filled with overall romantic, delicate compositions and a melancholic hue throughout its forty-six-minute span. Nevertheless, each piece sets a distinctive mood and suggests unalike sensations, demonstrating the multiple forms in which the theme of childhood might be revealed. Angst, nostalgia, and hope waver in Aija Alsina’s own search for a unique musical expression.

Morning Glow, the opening piece, is one the album’s most appealing and characteristic compositions, showcasing the beautiful string arrangements, the multi-layered piano, and the occasional sound-effect ambiance that make Domum mesmerizing. Pieces like Reflection and Variation on the Horse Theme demonstrate Alsina’s care for soundscapes, and pieces like French Waltz, which introduce French horn arrangements, illustrate her composing versatility. On the contrary, the intimate dwelling-nature of the piano can still be heard in pieces such as Krastini.

Although it revolves around the piano, Domum is nonetheless an evocative album filled with texture and imagery. An effort characterized both by its assembly of mixed emotions, and by its delicate play and the broad range of sounds. Aija Alsina's debut is utterly captivating.

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Stream and download the album on Bandcamp or Spotify

 

Artist spotlight: Kamila Bassioni by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Lore Deuninck

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Kamila Bassioni is a Caïro based visual artist with a B.A. in scenography earned at the fine arts college in Egypt, born in 1985. Her last years of work have been focused on freelance illustration – such as designing book covers and illustrating children’s picture books – and personal projects next to that. She has also participated in multiple group exhibitions.

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Kamila says that commissions usually inspire her personal work. Another big source of inspiration she finds in human emotions and the feel, thought and act of suffering. With this kind of art, Bassioni wants to express and share different thoughts and concepts. To open up the eyes of the spectators is the goal, whether they are living in Egypt or abroad. She aims for people to start thinking and be critical. For her, creating visual art seems to be a way of shouting without words. Therefore expressing herself peacefully but powerfully like this, leads to the truest satisfaction possible for her.

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Bassioni mainly works with paper and cardboard; she combines the cut-out and collaging techniques to create characters big or small, with each their own thoughts and emotions. For example, for the project ‘Rags to Riches’ in Caïro, she assembled an installation of large-sized standing dolls which refer to the pain and hopelessness of the 1930’s Great Depression, but as well portray the current state of the Egyptian (or more widely seen: Arab) citizen.

Keep in touch with Kamila via Behance and Instagram.



 

 

Artist spotlight: Luca Longobardi by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Sergio Díaz De Rojas

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Earlier this year, Sonorospace (previously Ónority Music) shared the work of Italian composer Luca Longobardi, who was just beginning his 100 Days Project, which consisted of improvising a short piano piece, not longer than a minute, every day for one hundred days, and that is how I came across with Longobardi’s work. During the following months, he would release two short projects - Residue and 3 soundscapes in C - that would make me fall in love with his music.

Residue contains three different versions of the same piece, a piece that didn’t end up being included on his upcoming record and that represents his creative process and his versatility when composing and arranging. 3 soundscapes in C includes three pieces that saw the light in the middle of a hot Roman summer. The Lake, the opening track, is one of the most beautiful piano pieces I have listened to lately.   

At the end of August, Luca finished his 100 Days Project, an admirable demonstration of perseverance, and announced a limited cassette edition of it, which you can get on Bandcamp. A week later, his track Autumna was released as part of Bigo & Twigetti's fourth and final album in their seasonal series which started in 2014. And, only some days ago, he announced Plume, his very first work on vinyl, alongside the title track, to be released on October 16th.

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Longobardi’s works seem to be spontaneous, based on everyday-life situations that give the impression of being very simple but that hold deep feelings and thoughts, and the more you immerse yourself in them the more familiar they become, and will fill you with nostalgia for places and people you don't know.


Keep up with Luca's work on Facebook, Spotify, Bandcamp, and SoundCloud.

 

 

 

 

 

 

P&C interview: Iz Smith by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Camila Craig

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To get recognition in the art world is a hard task, more so for women and other diminished groups in society. It is also rare to encounter a platform which encourages the protagonism of such groups. However, Iz Smith, an English artist and illustrator, shares with us her initiative to incentivize female empowerment.

How was Red Moon Art Collective born? Tell us the story! 

It was a sunny day in July and I was sat on my patio letting the sun dry my hair when I had a sudden burst of thought to create Red Moon. The name came naturally to me, the connotations of the name regarding the female reproductive system and periods and how it all connects with the moon. After visiting the Tate Modern in London during the month of February, and getting the privilege to see some of 'Guerrilla Girlswork, I was very inspired to create a project which empowers and uplifts female artists, attempting to give them more recognition in a field which is very often dominated by males – so from there Red Moon Art Collective was born. 

What are the main goals and future plans you’re working on right now?

As Red Moon is only three months old I am still coming to terms with how it’s all going to work. At the moment I am messaging female artists on Instagram, giving them a few interview questions to answer, as well as getting them to send me over images of their artwork. This then gets posted on the page as a feature. However, I am looking into getting other ladies involved with the page, giving them the opportunity to ask people questions themselves to feature on the page. I am very inspired by creative magazines and if I was to give myself a massive future goal it would definitely be to create my own magazine for Red moon.

How has the public received this project? Have you gotten any feedback yet?

It’s been amazing so far! Everyone I’ve messaged has been so supportive, complimenting me on the idea of the page and how much they love the concept. So many lovely women have sent me their own artwork too, as well as a few asking to be involved with the interviews. It’s early days but there’s no doubt the Red Moon community will continue to grow in many incredible and empowering ways!

 

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Tell us about yourself and your art. Who are you, how did you get initiated in the art world and how has your work evolved over the years?

My name is Izzy and art is my passion. It’s no word of a lie when I say it's the one thing I live for, without it I see no existence. For me I see the beauty and art in just life itself, taking inspiration for my work from anything and everything, from depression to a lady on a bench. Illustration is what I do primarily, however I am a massive advocate of photography, and there are so many creative aspects I’d love to try. Although I’m only in the last year of sixth form, I’d say I have had quite a mature upbringing with my art, inspired by artists and photographers like Yayoi Kasuma, Wolfgang Tillmans, Nan Goldin, and Tracey Emin since the age of thirteen. I started working with illustration three years ago now, I remember scrolling through tumblr and seeing a line drawing and thought ‘I want to try that!’ It is my dream to be an illustrator, or to have a job as some sort of a creative.

I started doing art from a very young age. Being brought up in a creative family I have always been encouraged to paint and draw etc. I started off doing really realistic pencil drawings, now using pen and ink, gouache paint, and paper cuts. No doubt that will all change in a year – I love the fact that my art might evolve into something completely different in 10 years time. 

Do you have any messages for emerging female artists out there? 

As one myself, never stop working and always be open minded to accepting criticism. I read the latest ‘Womankind Magazine’ recently and there was a really inspiring quote from Gabriel Isak which really held onto me - “Explore what inspires you and don’t be afraid of stepping outside of your comfort zone and failing. It is only then that you will move forward and continue to grow as an artist.”

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Attachment by Jason van Wyk by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Aubrey Woodward

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Set to release on September 15, 2017, Jason van Wyk’s ‘Attachment’ is a post-classical masterpiece. Described as maximal minimal music, it sets the stage by opening with ‘Kept’, a track that doesn’t leave you wanting – instead it creates a mood for the rest of the songs. It is quiet but hopeful, drawing the listener in and capturing their attention with a slow intensity that intensifies continuously through the rest of the album.

The climax is reached with ‘Stay’, the second longest track showcased directly in the middle of the album and the auditory example of the term ‘slow build’. Beginning with an intense ambient rumble, it drops right into a very natural composition before being reduced back to a rumble and building up again. It keeps the listener on their toes which is something that could be said for the rest of the album as well but is especially prevalent within this track.

The ambient nature of ‘Attachment’ makes it very relaxing to listen to but this isn’t to say it is boring. The simplicity of it draws the listener in and gives them the option to interpret the tracks themselves. The composer’s intentions and the listener’s intention are somehow both intricately intertwined and entirely separate. They are on a parallel journey.

‘Stay’, ‘Found’ and ‘Outset’ are standout tracks. The flow of the album would not be the same without them, moving it along almost like a wave. It waxes and wanes, a continuous juxtaposition between anticipation and quiet.

Wyk’s album can be found on Home Normal’s bandcamp. It ‘was originally released in March 2016 in a 130 CD(r) limited edition on Eilean Records. This edition has been completely remastered to focus on the original recordings, and to accompany Jason Van Wyk's follow-up 'Opacity'.’

 

 

In The Dark Woods by Akira Kosemura by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Amanda Nordqvist

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10 years ago, Tokyo-based Akira Kosemura released his debut album “It’s On Everything”, and went on to co-found a music label, compose phenomenal cross-genre works, and write scores for film, theatre and commercials. With his latest release, In The Dark Woods, Kosemura showcases his talent for the neo classical, utilizing the intimacy of the piano and all its accompanying noise, and experimenting with more produced electronics, using a Wurlitzer and synthesizer.

From the first few seconds of the beginning track, DNA, the immediate immersion is total – and dizzying. The rhythm of rushed footsteps through the woods sparks a physical reaction in my chest, and I can practically see the leaves falling all around me, curious eyes watching me from the shelter of trees; the fairytale backdrop is tangible. Resonance takes on a more familiar shape with its soft, honest, almost vintage feel, and passes by barely noticeable, followed by the sweet Between The Trees, another autumn daydream.

Sphere jumps out with electronic vibes and experimental improvisations, providing a new form of energy and in return enticing a more immediate awareness from the listener. The album proceeds in a gentler manner, with Inside River #1 and #2 both seeming like two renditions of some old, long forgotten lullaby, awakening such intense nostalgia I need a second to catch my breath. But there is no time, as the urgency of Shadow grabs me by the arm, a frustration in its voice – come now, quickly, but also slow down, feel what is around you, reach for it, but hurry now, hurry.

In Moving the love I carry for this planet of ours is mirrored – ear to the ground I hear the clicking of insects scurrying, the deliberate, distant churning of trees moving slowly, slowly – I hear the voice of the earth, as translated by Kosemura’s gentle hands. Spark on the other hand shows his more commercial talents, with comfortable, familiar progressions, and the title track with its grandiose strings lends another new dimension to the atmosphere. By the end of the album I am acutely aware of the way my blood seems to have slowed down in my veins – I feel a swelling in my chest – did my heart stop, is it going backwards, what’s happening? From the very first track, I’ve been so absorbed by this world Kosemura has created; I am momentarily blinded as I re-open my eyes. 

Stream and download this masterpiece on Bandcamp and Spotify.

 

Deer Traps by Leonard Donat by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Blake Parker

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 Without a moment’s hesitation, Deer Traps by Leonard Donat recalls Biosphere, Brian Eno, and elements of early Bibio and Bath’s side-project Geotic. From the opening track Donat establishes a sort of musical inactivity, or a guise of such. In reality elements fade in and out, vary, and trade thematic dominance throughout each track just as any other more traditional music would. The artistry that lies within Deer Traps is the versatility of its perceived character: it can function as a meditative or even sleep-inducing atmosphere, a background to increase focus and awareness, or a direct escape into realms and spaces of true auditory fantasy. 

Mechanically, Deer Traps utilizes repetitiveness as a tool to influence the listener. Within a foggy context of field recordings and ambient samples lies the bed of instrumental meandering which, without intent listening, seems to wander endlessly further and further down a winding tunnel. With more scrutiny, the reality of the music comes into view that these instruments are singular building blocks with finite edges – beginnings and endings – that are so expertly woven together to seem unendingly unique and explorative.

In Donat’s album, unlike many others’ that may attempt the same effect, a precise balance of variety and redundancy is accomplished. While this musical technique can fail in ways of both lack of content to cause actual boredom, and an overuse of individual elements to surrender familiarity to the point of discomfort, Donat splits the middle effortlessly, and the resulting collection of songs deserves praise in numerous genres and applications, if not simply as a ubiquitous ambient work of art.

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Get a copy on Blackjack Illuminist Records' Bandcamp.

 

Forgotten by Moisés Daniel by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Blake Parker

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Moisés Daniel’s album Forgotten possesses immersive and unique atmospheres. Within the first moments of the album, the listener feels thrust into the piano’s interior – inside the very instrument itself. The piece quickly envelopes the ears and the mind, causing visual imagery of what a piano’s inward appearance might be – rough, unpolished wood; hard, simple angles; metal pegs and steel strings exposed when usually concealed.

As these thoughts float by, dramatic synthesizer accompaniment joins the rolling descents of the higher piano keys. In this moment of musical tension the realization strikes that we, as people, have the same façade as the instrument… we too polish and smooth our exterior surface, adorn our edges with curves and flair, and hide our most vital interworkings – well – inward. These kinds of self-reflections are Daniel’s intention of the music in Forgotten, as he hopes most of all that the album can serve to connect us with ourselves.

Daniel is a Spanish computer engineer and hobbyist composer, who experiments with both traditional and modern instrumentations throughout the album; Forgotten is anchored by a strong presence of expressive pseudo-classical piano, but one that is tinged even in the most covert moments by a sheen of soaring synth chords or by a lower, more gritty synth bassline. This duality is played out in a way where neither element steps on the other but instead, the two intertwine in a harmonious way.

 

While tracing a unique musical past ranging from composing entirely with 1990s computers, to songs appearing in Spanish video games, to the epic genre and gigantic sounds, and now to Daniel’s current technique and sound, I am personally confident Daniel has arrived at his destined niche in the musical universe. While technology fads come and go, and we may well need music for video games, the music found in Forgotten is far more wholesome and purposeful. Within these notes lies the character of an individual: a lover, a caring father, an entity in this vast emptiness called existence, and most importantly, someone reaching out.


Keep up with Moisés' work on Facebook and SoundCloud.

 

Dietro a un vetro by Giulio Fagiolini by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Aubrey Woodward

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On August 15th, 2017, Giulio Fagiolini released his debut album Dietro a un vetro, meaning ‘through glass’. Fagiolini is a pianist from Italy, specializing in minimalist, ambient music.

As a person with bipolar disorder, there is a lot going through my head all the time. I find it difficult to relax and used to have to put on ambient noise just to concentrate in order to get anything done. I had no trouble at all concentrating while writing to this album. The sense of innocence it invokes is both calming and authentic. It’s transformative, turning rigidness into flexibility and clearing an uncertain mind into something more capable of tangible thought.

The delicate technique that Fagiolini employs is both skilled and beautiful, while maintaining a simplistic sound. The entire album is a very well-rounded body of work, no track seems to be lacking despite the minimalist characteristics of the songs. In fact, the minimalistic aspect only adds to the mood of the music. The compositions lead the listener away from everyday life, removing them from this harsh reality and setting them down gently within one of peace.

Through a minimalist technique and emotional output, Fagiolini weaves a safety web around the listener, blanketing them with a sense of tranquility through music. It is a vivid, evocative body of work and an incredible first album. I can’t wait to hear more from him.

Stream and download Dietro a un vetro on Bandcamp and keep up with Giulio's work on Facebook.

 

P&C interview: Gregory Euclide by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Amanda Nordqvist

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In a way of paying homage to the effort artists put into their work, only to be consumed in an uncommitted manner, Gregory Euclide created the Thesis Project – a way for musicians to collaborate, either with each other or with a visual artist, always with a 10” vinyl with uniquely handmade packaging as a result. Gregory himself is an artist and a teacher based in the Minnesota River Valley, with works of art that all dip heavily into the inspirational well of the land, resulting in stunning depictions of the landscapes he has experienced. Alongside this affection for nature, music is a strong influence to Gregory’s life as well, and though he tried to be a musician for a while, he realized he needed to make a choice between the two art forms, and decided to pursue the career of the visual artist – a decision that proved fruitful, as Gregory’s work has been published and featured on several high-end platforms, and rightly celebrated.

What can you tell me about the Thesis Project? How did the idea first come to life?

I was sitting in at the Turf Club watching Vic Chesnutt perform and I was thinking about how musicians make money. The question came to me, “Could I directly pay Vic Chesnutt to make a song for me?” I think it was just a different way of thinking about how I support artists. I had to think for a minute, “How much does it mean to me to have this musician in my life? $200? $1000?” 

Fast-forward 5 years or so from that night at the concert, I'm on twitter and I read Taylor Deupree (owner of 12k) tweeting something about a wonderful moment from a Great Lake Swimmers performance. It dawned on me that a lot of this music is coming from the same place. GLS make music about the land... Taylor Deupree is largely influenced by the land. Yet, the way they go about expressing it is unique. I wondered if I could bring some of those connections together to widen the musicians understanding and to bring something new to the listener. I got the idea to ask Taylor to do a project with S. Carey of Bon Iver. They both frequently post photographs of the land on their Instagram feed. I could see a nexus between their forces. They agreed to it, and that was the start. 

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Could you describe the process of the project?

1) The first step is to contact the musicians that I think might work well in a THESIS environment. They then decide how they would like to go about the collaboration. Some work together in the same space and some work at a distance. 

2) Once the rough mixes are turned in the musicians receive their first payment. I honestly have no idea how other record labels function, but I wanted to pay the musicians upfront regardless of sales and before sales. 

3) The tracks then get mastered and sent back to the musicians for approval. After approval, test pressings. After approval of those, we wait. That is when I start creating the jackets and sleeves. 

4) Each jacket and sleeve is laser cut, glued and folded in house. Each jacket gets a unique cover that is a combination of air brushed stencils, laser cut paper and type set embossment. Each one takes over 2 hours to make. 

Sleeve Graphic: Each artist involved sends me a photo of their hand. From the photo I do a contour line drawing which gets used on the sleeve along with a depiction of the musician’s place of origin. The line drawing is drawn on the sleeve and the land is air brushed. 

Jacket Graphic: This is more of a personal response to the music. I pick a few images or shapes that come to me while listening to the music and use those in a modular way to generate the unique images. These change over time, as I am making 300 for each release. It is an evolving image based on experience and time with the material and subject. 

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Has the project changed in any significant way from its early stages?

We have been collecting customer data through our online survey since the first set of releases. We use that information to improve the project. We want it to be the best it can possibly be. For example: We switched from white to black vinyl. Some people like colored vinyl, myself included, but black gives you the best possible sound… So, we made a choice to switch in the interest of bringing the best possible product to market. We are continuously improving. 

You’ve spoken about ‘showing respect’ to the music and the arts – could you elaborate on that for me?

By hand-making a unique object for everyone who purchases the work, I am saying "I care." I am also taking a large portion of my time and devoting it to the production of the object. Respect through effort. THESIS is a direct response to the idea that Art should conform to our self-imposed busyness or be under our control or be easy. The care that is required of an object and the relationship that an object has to the body is of interest to us. 


Learn more about THESIS and purchase their unique, beautiful projects on their website.

Expiration Compositions by The Greatest Hoax by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Camila Craig

Nine instrumental songs. Forty minutes of pure bliss and enchantment. Expiration Compositions by The Greatest Hoax begins slowly and mysteriously. Each song takes you to a parallel universe, ruled by their own melodies.

'As the Lights Dim' is daring, made of powerful, strong sounds. While 'It’s Ok' is mellow and soothing. The album is made by these contrasts. It is not as simple as that, of course, but it’s not that complicated either. 'Just Passing Through' stands out from the rest. This song is engulfing, almost intergalactic. On the other hand, 'Fading Away' has a relaxing and positive tune. It can even work as meditation music for some. The album ends with the track 'Pulling up the Sheets', which is either a hopeful whisper to the skies, or the last thoughts before going to sleep.

Expiration Composition has everything. It is hopeful and dramatic. Mellow but exciting. It displays a great diversity, well thought out by an even greater musician. 

Get your own copy of Expiration Composition here, or stream it on Spotify. Keep up with The Greatest Hoax's work on Facebook.

Artist spotlight: Seraphina Theresa by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Amanda Nordqvist

Over the last few years, German artist Seraphina Theresa has created numerous astonishing works of art, using several creative outlets such as photography, drawing, and, as of late, music. Currently based in Düsseldorf, Seraphina creates art focused mainly on nature and self-portraits, often simultaneously, and offers an insightful look at the world she has created for herself – a world in which she flourishes.

Seraphina’s drawings range from abstract to minimalistic but mostly display a lighter side to the artist – likewise, her dreamy collages dwell on the brighter side of the spectrum, all soft curves and gentle shapes. However, it is with her photography, either hauntingly grim or blissfully light-hearted, the intense intimacy of Seraphina’s art is made perfectly clear – she hides nothing, shies away from nothing, and appears completely un-afraid to shine a light on the darkest parts of life.

It is this contrast of dark and bright that seems to me the core theme in a lot of her work, and a big part in what makes her art so intriguing; still, her art is constantly growing and changing, made obvious by the drastic differences in her projects, Le temps, la vieillesse et la mort and Phase 3 - Wie es an uns zerrt, published only a couple of months apart, yet displaying and evoking completely separate emotions.

Instead of drawing inspiration from any particular outside source, Seraphina prefers to look inwards – to Hooligan Magazine she said, in regards to her collaboration with composer Sergio Díaz de Rojas, “[…] it is more about the ways I understand and experience life itself which make me do the things I do”, and that shows in her work. The art Seraphina creates – whether it be music, poetry, photography – is unabashedly personal, but relatable all the same, and frankly unnerving in its complete, uncensored authenticity. 

Keep up with her work on Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook and Flickr.

Esquisses by Dominique Charpentier by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Aubrey Woodward

Dominique Charpentier, a French pianist and composer, recently released his EP Esquisses on his bandcamp on June 23, 2017. Esquisses is French for ‘sketches’ which matches this EP perfectly – the experimental way that Charpentier created these tracks echoes the act of a rough sketch. He challenged himself to create these tracks in a very short period of time.

All the tracks were composed in less than two hours and were created with this method as a form of artistic experimentation. According to Charpentier, ‘The idea was to stimulate my creativity and force myself to make very spontaneous compositions. The improvisation part of the process was very important of course but then I also had to make essential choices about the musical structure and the instrumentation in a very short time.’

Despite the time restrictions that went into creating this EP, it is impossible to tell that a shorter time period was a factor in the creative process. Esquisses consists of five separate tracks; each track carries a different emotion within them, whether it be melancholy or romance, and they are all very strong tracks individually. What’s more amazing is the way that all of these tracks fit together. While one might think that this method of composing might lead to similar sounding compositions, it only makes them stronger – and together they make a very strong, cohesive body of work.

Though the actual album only lasts a little over 12 minutes, the emotions it evokes range wildly. Through the simplicity of the composition, the listener is left intrigued and longing. The minimalist aspect of Charpentier’s music does not take away from its effect, but simply leaves it more open to interpretation. Experimental, yet evocative, it’s an extraordinary body of work.


Keep up with his work on Facebook, Spotify and SoundCloud.

P&C interview: James Maloney by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Amanda Nordqvist

On July 7th, London-based producer and composer James Maloney had his debut album, Gaslight, released by our friends over at Moderna Records. With experience both from studying music and producing scores for film and theatre, Maloney channeled his creative spirit into an exceptionally atmospheric album, filled with intensely harmonious as well as more experimental pieces. James took some time from his busy schedule of composing for a huge musical play, and spoke to us about his debut solo release.


Firstly, James - how were you introduced to music? When did you start creating your own? 

My introduction to music was an organic one. Music was constantly playing in my home when I was a child, by my parents who are music enthusiasts, but not musicians. I remember vividly hearing Holst’s ‘The Planets’, which my dad brought home when I was about three, and experiencing a total, overwhelming euphoria, which I realise now probably isn’t a normal reaction to that music for a three-year-old.

I was exposed to a really eclectic mix of stuff, and got really hooked on Michael Jackson’s music. One Christmas, when I was about six, I saw a Casio keyboard with a picture of Michael Jackson on the front of the box; that was my Christmas present, and it all started there.

From that point I started making my own music, in rudimentary ways, and it’s never stopped. 

Could you describe your creating process for me?

Every creative project I have brings its own process; this in itself is terrifying, but also vital for keeping the journey invigorating, and the end product interesting. 

Generally, however, I have an impetus. This might be a vague idea I’ve had for something, or it might be a commission. This is what sets the ball rolling. What tends to happen next is a lot of thinking; eventually I get brave enough to try to make some sounds, whether it be at an instrument, a laptop, or notated on manuscript paper, and the rest tends to be a process of constant reworking.

It’s so important to have the courage and tenacity to keep reworking ideas until they’re where you need them to be. It can be hugely exasperating, but that’s how I get most of my work done.  

Are there any significant differences in composing your solo work and the work you create for film and theatre

Ultimately it’s always about graft.  People think making music is about inspiration; it’s not.  It’s about really hard work, perseverance, imagination, and a bit of cunning.

The principal difference is that with solo work, you have total control of everything; in theatre, you’re at the mercy of many exterior factors which are completely out of your control; that’s what makes the latter so terrifying, and so exhilarating. 

What or who is your biggest inspiration when composing? 

Bach, I think, is the ultimate master; students of composition can little better than study his work in minute detail. Other major inspirations are Radiohead, Steve Reich, Miles Davis - warriors of integrity. 

What can you tell me about Gaslight?

The impetus for Gaslight was twofold: I’d been living in Paris, and then in London - two very intense cities – and found myself listening to more and more ‘quiet’ music, as a means of counteracting my surroundings - I liked the idea of making something in this area. Additionally, I’d been writing a lot of very complex, densely orchestrated atonal music, and was getting nowhere with it. I imagined what the musical antithesis of this might be, and arrived at a vague idea for the album.

Then it was a case of making several hundred iPhone recordings of little musical ideas on the piano, whenever I could access one (I don’t own a piano), over the course of a couple of years. Eventually, I realized there was probably an album’s worth of decent material in there somewhere, if I really worked at it. I borrowed a couple of microphones and spent some weeks at my parents’ house experimenting. I’d return a few months later, and do a few more days work, and it grew like that.  

In regards of Moderna Records: I was a big admirer of the label, and simply followed them on SoundCloud after I’d uploaded some of my music. I had the very, very good fortune that they noticed that I was following them, listened to my music, and got in touch. I’m so grateful to those guys. 

How does it feel to have released your debut album? What were your thoughts and expectations throughout the whole process? 

It’s been joyous getting it out there - especially on a label like Moderna - and the reception has been brilliant. But at the same time, I’m already onto the next thing. Knowing myself, it’s important to be working on new material straight away, rather than spend too much time thinking about what’s already complete. I’ve made a couple of sketches for my next album already, which I’m really excited for, and a big Shakespeare play I’ve written the music for is about to open too, so I’ve had little time to bask. 

Any thoughts or advice you’d like to share with young artists out there? 

Make something that’s true to you, and work hard at it. Keep going, keep going, keep going. 


And keep going we will! While we all wait for James’s next album, you can listen to his latest release on Moderna Records’ Bandcamp

Skörheten by Jakob Lindhagen by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Amanda Nordqvist

After its successful release in 2016, Skörheten (Fragility) – a Swedish film about crippling anxiety – was granted several nominations and awards; based on director Ahang Bashi’s own issues with panic attacks, the film had an incredibly important task in portraying quite the difficult subject, and managed to do so expertly with the help of the intricately invested soundtrack, proficiently matching the desperation and delicacy of the film. The soundtrack, written by Jakob Lindhagen, stands just as tall on its own, and was recently re-mastered and released by 1631 Recordings, with the addition of three bonus tracks.

The eerie intro sets an immediate scene – an excellent teaser of what Lindhagen will build onto, of distinctive melodies with unsettlingly vivid personalities; the piano seems to hold a monologue, each terse note delivering an unwanted truth. After starting off sharp, defensive almost, the tracks quickly slip into deeper water, despair tingeing the tracks, Ett Mörker (A Darkness) paves way for Mottagningen, a track that explores further the confusion and unease, and builds to Varför Mår Jag Dåligt? (Why Do I Feel Unwell?) – a track that indisputably seems like a question unanswered, ending in a soft yielding to the unavoidable scenario that it provokes.

Läggas in? (Be hospitalized?) introduces some new elements, a sense of denial suddenly rushed into the relief of being taken seriously, and thrown back into not wanting to look, and be looked at, too closely. The album takes on a more experimental form for the next few tracks, until Lindhagen takes us back to the beginning with Samtal Med Roxy, a gentle reminder of where we’ve been before and will be again. He repeats and reinvents himself in my favorite track of the album, Jävla Ångest (Fucking Anxiety), and quickly moves on to the title track – an ode to the beginning, the eerie, hollow sound, vibrating on the verge of a breaking point – fragile but determined to push on, push harder, edges blurring, ears ringing – a track made grandiose by its blissful doom.

The bonus tracks add another layer to the album and seem to be a summary of the things Lindhagen hadn’t had the chance to express previously, and though an abrupt ending to an otherwise slow, graceful album, they showcase a side to the musician only briefly explored. Skörheten is an incredibly important soundtrack to an equally important film, and I couldn’t be happier with the decision to release an extended version of the album. Even with tracks screaming frailty, Lindhagen has a strength to his sound that is awe inspiring, and his impeccable way of portraying the emotions relevant to the story is, frankly, chilling. 

Stream and download Skörheten on Spotify and Bandcamp.

Points of Decay by Theo Alexander by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Tilsa Llerena

Music has magic. It gives us the possibility to reach beautiful and distant places, feelings and emotions that are usually removed from us, almost involuntarily. So here we are now, floating in the hands of the English Theo Alexander who takes us to a fantastic world of landscapes, textures, and melancholy, telling a beautiful story from beginning to end.

Points of Decay is one of those albums where music goes beyond the studio recordings, to continue in production work – where the effects, distortions, and the way the sound was managed are like other musicians who play along with Theo and build each piece of this album.

Alexander plays with sound; the extracts of recordings in "Dying", voices appearing in "Please Forget" and "Waiting for you to die", and the beautiful simplicity of "Twice, get out” remind us of the great Daniel Johnston and his free and unprejudiced way to play with music. In "Improvisation (February 3)" Alexander doesn’t hesitate to show his virtue on the piano, but the most interesting thing is that virtuosity is not a priority at all. Break violently the sound of the piano, distort it to obtain different textures with such delicacy that they don’t lose their smoothness. Alexander prioritizes the search from an honest place and achieves it.

Points of Decay is definitely an album to listen carefully to – take a moment to appreciate and not miss any detail because details are what make up the beauty of this album.


Theo's latest work is available on Bandcamp. Follow him on SoundCloud and Facebook for updates!