Dag Rosenqvist (otherwise known as Jasper, TX) represents a major milestone in my journey to musical discovery. For his latest on the expertly curated Eilean Rec., Rosenqvist strips away a lot of the long-form drone of his work under the moniker Jasper, TX and lays bare some of the most simple and heartbreaking compositions to date. Chords on pianos pressed down with the utmost sincerity. The weight of the world pressing down on on three piano keys left to ring into ominous, pregnant stormclouds full of static-charged electronics and wisps and whispers of augmented tones. This excerpt is a perfect indication of where Rosenqvist is heading. Compositional still-life that is highly choreographed, highly charged in the not-silence between ringing notes. In the blackness the image is still burned into our retinas. How long can a person tread water? How long can we hold our breath as we gi through tunnels burrowed beneath sound? Another chord is like coming up for air.
Pendel is Belgian guitarist Yadayn's second full-length. For those of you who remember, his debut Vloed was one of my favorite albums of last year. A completely suprising, gut-punch of virtuosity and emotion from a masterful acoustic guitarist who, refreshingly, seems to take as much from Eastern classical guitarwork as he does from any sort of American Primitive style. Pendel, his first for Eilean Rec., swings from abstract pieces of strange, percussive guitar explorations of ringing overtones and auxilliary soundmaking to the emotionally charged and ruminating work towards the latter half of the record. On Pendel (Dutch for pendelum) the pendel certainly does swing stylistically back-and-forth - thus allowing Gowaart to explore rich, sonourous landscapes between rigorous experimentation and the hypnotic, textural, folk-meets-Tortoise repetition on tracks like "Rust" or the mournful "Kerk". An exceptional follow-up to a startlingly mature, and out-of-nowhere debut that floored me. The video accompaniment, taken from Alexander Sokourov's 1997 film "Mother & Son" appear like moving photographs. Perfectly framed, removed and intiontally far off. A perfect foil for music that is so intimate that you can hear Gowaart's calloused fingers sliding against steel strings on their way to briefly find another chord.
Lastly, Lake Mary. What would I do without Lake Mary's music? Look back through the archives and I don't think I've missed a release. Chaz Prymek's masterful guitarwork and newfound compositional confidence have found a logical, if only temporary, home on Eilean Rec. Prymek's latest work has opened up quite a bit, allowing long, billowing passages of exploratory roaming on acoustic guitar, banjo and a bevy of other stringed instruments (and musical partners) to settle in and just about get comfy before launching into one of Lake Mary's characteristic intense and technically proficient journeys up and down the fretboard. On And the Birds Sing in Chorus First Chaz begins with a cumulus gathering of stringed passages that assemble and gestate, rubbing against each other to create static electricity before Lake Mary's intense solo lines ring out - channeling American Primitivists' fascination with Near Eastern ragas and transcendental repetition punctuated by flurries of notes. Nothing in Lake Mary's latest offering sounds rushed or hurried, but rather unfolds in the way mountain afternoons often do: long spaces between moments of poignant beauty. For the video, more Sokourov footage of clouds and perfectly framed trees in both winter and spring give perfect visual counterpoint to the aural footage shot by Lake Mary's deep familiarity and conversations with mountain grandeur. Lake Mary has expanded in both compositional scope and in membership, but in doing so, communicates explicitly what it means to be and to feel very, very small.