Sunday, April 19, 2009

orchestramaxfieldparrish presents ÆRA - To The Last Man / Index Of Dreaming

Just released, Faith Strange Recordings has issued it’s first double cd of new recordings:

orchestramaxfieldparrish presents ÆRA - To The Last Man / Index Of Dreaming (fs8&9)

A beautifully detailed and rich sonic palette exploring the fleeting aspects of memory and dreams. These recordings manage to strike an artistic balance between adventurousness and a neo-classical sensibility, combined with a keen perception of aural sculpture. In a genre that brims with derivations, To The Last Man / Index Of Dreaming is something way ahead of the curve.

Issued in a limited edition 2xCD package in a Japanese style double mini lp gatefold sleeve. Two hours of wide open vistas and introspective private rooms.

Further info, ordering and music soundbites can be found here: here

ÆRA - Pæan No. 1 - The Paradise Syndrome …I have found paradise, Surely no man has ever attained such happiness. Here, there is much time for everything. Each time your arms hold me it’s as joyous as the first. Each kiss is as the first…

(fs10) - A limited and numbered edition of fifty included with the first fifty copies of orchestramaxfieldparrish presents ÆRA - To The Last Man / Index Of Dreaming. Exclusively through Faith Strange.

This title is no longer available but a second pressing is in the works and should be available July, 2009.


orchestramaxfieldparrish presents ÆRA :: To The Last Man/Index Of Dreaming (Faith Strange)

“…A double-set from what seems an even more hermetic vehicle than OMP, this ÆRA is one of stern synthetic driftscapes, with sounds mainly seeking upper spheres – of the ær rather than the earth…”  - Alan Lockett, Contributing Editor

Mike Fazio conceived of ÆRA as a personal take on symphonic music merged with the art and the literary worlds. The art/literary element can be seen minimally in arcane presentational trappings, but it’s musical matter that matters here. A subtle Eastern European dark-night-of-the-soul undercurrent runs through ÆRA; under influence of late-modernist composers – Górecki (check), Pärt (check), Penderecki (check), Kancheli (check) – the prevailing ambient drone of Fazio’s guitar manipulations, familiar from outings under the cloak of orchestramaxfieldparrish, gets a headier, more mysterious, flavour. The ‘X presents Y’ billing is comparable to the Coil presents… projects: where musical expression emerges in a slightly different voice from an artist’s customary articulation, yet is recognisably of the same blood. So ÆRA bespeaks another place while vibrating with a resonance recognisable from Fazio’s ‘parrish. A double-set from what seems an even more hermetic vehicle than OMP, this ÆRA is one of stern synthetic driftscapes, with sounds mainly seeking upper spheres – of the ær rather than the earth. Long wisps and swathes of tonefloat are drawn out languorously arcing over tracts alternately teeming and evacuated, finely flowing from a sonic palette deployed for exploration of memory and dreams, of ritual and forgotten memories, scenes found not deleted – recovered from the There and Then of a Future-past hybrid projection.

So, artfully navigating the interstices between experimental ambient and a distillate of neo-classical, Disc 1, To The Last Man, tends to the melodramatic and dense, while Index Of Dreaming to the oneiromantic and spatial. “Elegæa” initiates the ritual, wispy atmospherics laced with orchestral infusions setting in train a multi-hued journey attended by dark portent. “To Touch The Sky” bristles with micro-chatter and campanology, tone-whorls over dark drone and post-Gothic colourings. “Ennoæ” injects percussive patterns into the synthetic base, vague echoes of Steve Roach emerging. At other points Fazio displays affiliations with other iconic ambient/space/drone artists. On “Out Of Many, One” synth sonorities suggest ’70s Kosmische – Klaus Schulze, vintage TD. Disc 1 spans organic environmental to outer space cosmicity, taking in various stops on the La Monte Young-Phil Niblock-Fripp/Eno-Robert Rich line. Where the first CD is questing and restless in experiment, the second is more restrained and stay-at-home. On the second, “1/1″ opens in titular hommage to Music for Airports (note similar parallels in the disc’s nomenclature, Index Of Dreaming – cf. Eno/Fripp’s “An Index of Metals”). The extended “1/3″ grows to epic proportions through fields of static and chimes – a lulling paean of heady post-industrial vapours, swells and billows. This ÆRA bestrides musical eras effortlessly and engrossingly.

A new approach (or at least moniker) for orchestramaxfieldparrish's Mike Fazio, this album presents two separate discs, each individually named, for a double dose of dark and moody ambience as rendered by Fazio's nearly neo-classical approach. Long though it may be, there is enough depth to the material here that suggests numerous listens, yet it is also bare enough that it is just as suitable as background accompaniment, albeit to a consistently grim undertaking.

The first disc, To the Last Man, features a lengthy presentation of seven pieces each exploring a similarly shaded demeanor materializing and decomposing tonal matter. The shimmering bell-like resonances of "To Touch the Sky" writhe uncomfortably above the dark underpinnings of drone that situate themselves amongst an almost Gothic sonic backdrop infested by gargoyles and ghosts alike. It is a strange, unnerving approach that manages to paint new material with old techniques.

The filmic quality of much of this material is undeniable considering the strength of its spare and evocative mood setting. With delicate placement, each piece here finds new corners and awkward, creeping modes of the same general tone. As the previously mentioned track slips into "Ennoæ," a distant hand drum rhythm brings new color to the bleakness, adding an echoing force behind the thick swabs of blackness being worked with. When a series of pipes come in, the work begins to resemble a mini percussion orchestra, riding atop some steady drone that bobs up and down in untended black waters.

Fazio's greatest abilities lie in his decisions, as each work displays many that point toward a general caution executed in the creation of his pieces. Never one to overindulge himself, Fazio's textures and patterns service the tune far more than any egotistical self-journey. There is a meditative, almost minimalist effect to many of these, as the carefully produced sounds bounce in and out of the mix with trance-inducing effect.

Yet Fazio's signature sound seems to stem far more from Arvo Part than Reich or Glass, while also interweaving an almost proggy sense of the dramatic. "Ecquænam" may be short, but it has enough dramatic flourishes to make it an ample close to the first disc. "1/1" opens the next disc in a seeming homage to Eno's Music for Airports, a connection made stronger by the title of the disc and its close approximation to Eno's collaborative effort with Robert Fripp on "An Index of Metals." If greater convincing is required, then it can be found in the ambient structures constructed throughout, as the aforementioned proggy elements are brought to the fore and coaxed into writhing electronic sculptures that bend and sway against the skies.

The two discs represent a fine and strongly crafted construction that, though quite a lot for one listen, serves its listener well over the course of numerous re-dippings into the cold waters. That these are as beautiful as they are only makes the darkness more alluring, as the closing "1/3" certainly displays. Almost a half-hour long, the piece builds slowly through static mine fields and church bells. It may be intimidating, and it may long, but the allure of such a mystique can't be denied. - Henry Smith

The last time I had the distinct pleasure of hearing a Faith Strange release it was the sublime ‘Silent Breath of Emptiness’ by the rather unwieldly named orchestramaxfieldparrish. Now a year later the name has grown with the addition of ‘presents AERA’. It’s a mouthful and a half isn’t it. In order to work around this I’m going to refer to orchestramaxfieldparrish presents AERA by his given name of Mike Fazio - it’s much easier to type.

The two halves of this album are individually named possibly as an indication of content or possibly as a thematic device for Mike’s overarching driving concept. Either way they encompass a sumptuous and engrossing set of ambient music. Utilising, slow snowfalls of drones, showers of micro-tones and (if you’re lucky enough to grab the limited edition with the extra third disc) some well chosen field recordings Mike has created a set that fills a room with a cushion of sound.

It’s difficult to give you a straight and easy description of the music. It is, by turn, the purest of ambient - like Eno at his best - before morphing into the most uncomfortable of atmospheres - dripping with discomfort and trepidation. His music is as slow and stark as the winter months and as lush and vibrant as the summer ones. Always recommended.

orchestramaxfieldparrish is, for want of a better description, an ambient project, encompassing everything that that much overused “A” word brings with it. However, this beautifully presented double CD comes with a Faith Strange quality guarantee, and over two hours, the listener is treated to OMP’s now trademark deep soundscaping. OMP’s founder and central composer, Mike Fazio finds strength in uniting bold themes with his grandiose, sombre arrangements, and the press release explains that the “Ae” diphthong of the title, translates to a dual tonality, a kind of linguistic trip of the tongue where one tone skips to another. The album’s expansive, dreamy atmosphere is immediately captivating, and the tracks segue into each other in a seamless montage of prolonged tonal tracts, wispy atmospherics, and grand orchestrations, reminiscent to me of early Tangerine Dream pieces, particularly Phaedra, which coincidentally utilises the “ae” dipthong in its title.

The accompanying CD, Index of Dreaming dispenses with titles and nomenclature, and simply numbers each piece, presumably as some kind of personal cataloguing, or reference points that we as listeners are not yet privy to, or have to decipher as each tract unfolds. Indeed the slightly cryptic use of Viking Eggeling’s pictorial series, “Diagonale Symphonie”, in the internal sleeve adds to the air of enigma shrouding this release, and I am left pondering this audio-visual conundrum as I listen to the washy, tidal strains emitting from my sound system.

Aera is an impressive foray, and is perhaps something of a defining moment for Fazio’s project thus far..tempting us to investigate further. Aera is effortlessly immersive, and I can think of few other ways in which to absorb my senses for two hours..listened to consecutively, Fazio’s hand is more than capable. An epic release. - BGN

from textura:

A bit of background first: called “ash” in English, the majuscule Æ (minuscule: æ) is, in aural terms, a diphthong (literally “two sounds” or “two tones”), a “contour” vowel whose separate components run together in rapid speech such that the sound changes as the tongue moves from one articulation to the next (Æ is also formally called a ligature due to the physical union of its two letters). Perhaps Mike Fazio (aka orchestramaxfieldparrish and Gods Of Electricity member) chose the ÆRA (“ash-ra”) name for his latest solo project as a gesture of tribute to Ash Ra Tempel, the German Krautrock band formed in 1971 by Manuel Göttsching, Klaus Schulze, and Hartmut Enke. Regardless, there’s definitely a cosmic quality to the ÆRA material.

In any case, the companion recordings constitute an audacious maiden voyage for Fazio’s new project with To The Last Man and Index Of Dreaming best regarded as a single, two-volume work. The recordings are dominated by heavily synthetic landscapes that more naturally reside in the upper spheres than on earth. Infinitely long trails of electrical tones—wholly guitar-generated, presumably—stretch over silent expanses like shooting stars captured in slow-motion, and tones shift and notes bend as they arc across the sky. To The Last Man takes the listener on a journey of varying moods with dark portentous lines sweeping across the open plains in the scene-setter “Elegæa.” The sixteen-minute “To Touch The Sky” follows, with prickly micro-noise, suggestive of the rapid chatter of insects or squirrels, sputtering across and bell-like tones occasionally punctuating flowing tendrils of simmering tones. “Ennoæ” introduces a pronounced physical dimension by layering percussive patterns atop the synthetic base, with hand drums and acoustic-sounding blocks giving the piece a natural character. In the ten-minute meditation “Out Of Many, One,” a more readily identifiable synthesizer sonority emerges during the final minutes, deepening the connection to the space-rock tradition associated with outfits such as Tangerine Dream.

Index Of Dreaming eschews conventional track titles for numbers (e.g., “1/1,” “2/2”) but sonically the ÆRA style carries over from one disc to the other; with “1/1” even seeming to pick up from where To The Last Man’s closing “Ecquænam” leaves off. If anything Index Of Dreaming may be the “purer” release of the two, as Fazio reduces the latter’s meditations and drones to their essence by largely banishing natural sounds altogether (the clear exception being “1/2” and “2/2” where choir exhalations accompany the tracks’ sweeping tones). The recording’s simmering prisms of light and sparkle reach an epic culmination in “1/3,” a lulling meditation where speckled, semi-industrial sheets of vaporous sound slowly billow, ripple, rise, and fall for twenty-eight hypnotic minutes. Natural additions to Fazio’s discography, both releases exemplify the astral traveler’s long-standing commitment to perpetuating the progressive and experimental traditions, electronic or otherwise, and should strongly appeal to fans of his recent orchestramaxfieldparrish The Silent Breath Of Emptiness which is sonically kin to the new material, regardless of moniker difference. - January 2009

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