Elskavon

Skylight by Elskavon by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Blake Parker

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Skylight by Elskavon in an immersive and captivating listen from beginning to end. Every track is bursting with character and color, and the sonic layers of detail go too deep to fully appreciate with one play through, giving the album distinct replay value. The album’s tone is set beautifully with the opening track, Harvest, which tremors from glistening high guitar notes and skips down to a lower register, giving space for a voice drenched in reverb to sing haunting vowels. Progressing in this way, the track adds more textures from piano both bright and mellow in sound, and perhaps other stringed instruments besides electric and acoustic guitar. Altogether the track forms an immaculate quilt of wandering phrases which alone would be quite plain but together illustrate the accomplished hand of Chris Bartels, the man behind Elskavon.

As Syna follows, more aggressive and booming bass frequencies are confidently explored, though only for a moment, offering a glimpse of a perhaps darker side of the compositions in Skylight. However, after a brief respite to the treble timbre, high fidelity strings and echoing vocals, the bass re-enters the song’s motif in an altogether major and bright tonal voice. Alongside picked guitar chords – a more tangible mechanic of music than we’ve heard from guitars so far in the album – Syna declares that the possibilities within Skylight are not solely passive and ambient. 

This same statement is repeated throughout the album every time a track might float too far in the direction of ambience, whether by a clear and driven piano melody, assertive orchestral strings holding a bowed note, or synthesized drums chopping out a determined rhythm. The beauty of this album lies in how delicately it skirts the line between the ambient genre and more active types of music. With an opener such as Harvest, one might be encouraged to lay back and perhaps even nap along to the tunes. But with the energetic atmospheres that lie ahead in the album, one might find this to be more of a challenge than expected.

Elskavon has been creating music for years and has in the past generated three separate albums within three years’ time. Concerning Skylight, however, Bartels chose to spend more time with the music before sending it into the world. As he himself has called it, the album is “a labor of love” whose resulting quality of detail and composition is astounding. 

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While the sonic atmospheres and purposeful drives of Skylight are noteworthy, the title track best exhibits another wonderful characteristic of the album – the power of storytelling through music. The track begins with a lighter section of the same ambience, though punctuated by clear vocals and quiet but persistent rhythmic synth chords. The song pauses midway, then blurs into a dramatic second section full of lush pianos, deep bass drum booms, and a more focal singing voice. Within the arc of this song can be felt the ache of love for family or a romantic partner, the sorrow of loved ones lost, the drive to accomplish personal goals or the striving to better ourselves for the good of those around us. The song is a gorgeous exploration of these intense emotions, all without directly implying any of them.

Skylight by Elskavon is a true work of art in the medium of sound, and Bartels’ patience and loving labor have paid off more so than he may realize. We can only hope that the next installment in Elskavon’s discography will be equally grandiose, but until then, it will be more than enough to relish every minute of Skylight as we wait.

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Fresh Finds #2 by Sergio Díaz De Rojas

By Sergio Díaz De Rojas

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On this second edition of Fresh Finds, we share with you a series of beautiful singles by both emerging and established artists from the contemporary classical music scene. 

Theo Alexander returns with Palliative, a seven minutes demonstration of what his upcoming record, Broken Access, will be. Otto Totland returns, as well, with Vates, a nostalgic and hopeful piano piece, the ideal introduction to his long-awaited record The Lost, which follows and expands on his intimate debut solo piano album Pinô from 2014. An artist that also took three years to release another record is Christ Bartels, also known as Elskavon, who has shared with us three singles (Anthos being one of them) from Skylight, an album inspired by memorable moments in his life, to be released in January 2018. To finish this series of upcoming records, we introduce you to Esja by Hania Rani, a Polish pianist and composer currently working on her first solo album after having previously collaborated with cellist Dobrawa Czocher.

To vary a little bit, we have added a rework to our SoundCloud and Spotify playlists. Daigo Hanada (Moderna Records) has recomposed Empire, taken from Matt Emery's debut album of the same name. On this version, Daigo replaces the percussive piano with soft arpeggios, and the strings with a baroque soprano recorder, perfectly combined in order to achieve a grandiose build-up. 

Last but not least, we included a very special piece by a very special artist. Forgotten Fields has returned with his self-titled album, a multidisciplinary project inspired by the remote landscapes of the Western Cape of South Africa. Each piece represents a verse of a poem written by him, which captures the idea behind the album.

Find all of these pieces below and in our Spotify playlist