Here are the first three albums that haunted me in the beginning of this year, which has been an especially slow-motioned and contemplative time. So, the sounds are subtle, atmospheric and gently close to darkness.
The comeback of lovely husband/wife duo Windy & Carl, a new amazing album by The Boats and the last uncanny journey by the always surprising Leyland Kirby's The Caretaker project... Enjoy.
Windy & Carl - "We Will Always Be"
The first new recordings from Windy and Carl in more than three years. Cited as "A leading light of the Michigan space-rock scene" by Allmusic, the minimalist group formed in 1993 around the core husband-and-wife duo of guitarist Carl Hultgren and bassist/singer Windy Weber. (Most of the band's pieces feature no vocals, however).
The band was prolific from the outset up to 2001, whereupon they took a hiatus of a few years. The music of Windy & Carl borrows heavily from the sounds of 1980s era bands on 4AD Records, specifically that of Robin Guthrie of the Cocteau Twins and various other dream pop and shoegazer acts. Unlike noteworthy prior drone/ambient artists (such as Cluster, Brian Eno, Popol Vuh, et al.), Windy and Carl's drones are primarily derived from guitar, particularly via usage of delay effects, reverb effects, and E-Bow, rather than synthesizers. Another noteworthy aspect of W.andC's sound is the absence of drums.
Released by: kranky
Release/catalogue number: krank163cd
The Boats - "Ballads of the Research Department"
"The Boats are a duo consisting of Craig Tattersall (ex-Hood, The Remote Viewer, and owner of the Cotton Goods label) and Andrew Hargreaves (Tape Loop Orchestra) as well a rotating roster of guest musicians and vocalists. With the Boats, 12k, who continues to move away from the 'electronic' tag, further plays the line between experimental electro-acoustic sounds and structured music creating an intoxicating hybrid of instrumentation, vocals, electronics, piano and drums.
They work in these grey areas by combining elements of various musical styles--ambient, pop, classical, and experimental --creating overlaps, gaps and layers, nudging the boundaries in the most sincere and natural of ways. The Boats' music is warm, rich and complex but never over-complicated. They rarely rely on any sort of studio trickery instead opting to use the most honest tools to get the sounds they want-- be it proper recordings of acoustic instruments or recording to analogue tape. This doesn't, however, override a passion for experimentation as they are happy to throw away the rules in favor of the aesthetics of error."
Released by: 12k
Release/catalogue number: 12k1068cd
The Caretaker - "Patience (After Sebald)"
James Leyland Kirby returns in 2012 with his long-in-the-making soundtrack to Grant Gee's film about W.G. Sebald. Patience (After Sebald) is a multi-layered film essay on landscape, art, history, life and loss by the acclaimed documentary film-maker Grant Gee. It is an exploration of the work and influence of German writer W.G. Sebald (1944-2001), told via a long walk through coastal East Anglia tracking his most famous book The Rings Of Saturn (1995). The book mixes history, travelogue, memoir, meditation, fiction and images to explore the personal, public and often overlooked histories of Suffolk.
In 2009, Grant approached The Caretaker to work on a soundtrack for this work and he sourced out-of-copyright Franz Schubert works from 1927 including the famous work "Winterreise." The soundtrack has been pieced together using snippets and fragments of this source material. The album artwork features another specially-commissioned painting by Ivan Seal, and will be available as a limited edition vinyl pressing and, later on, a digipak CD. Mastered and cut at Berlin's Dubplates & Mastering. Limited edition of 700 copies.
Released by: history always favours the winners
Release/catalogue number: haftw013lp