Here you’ll get to read interviews with Hidden Shoal artists and other folk we call our friends, see us wax lyrical about our favourite tracks, wrap your ears around artist and label curated mixtapes and a host of other things we haven’t even dreamed up yet. If you’d like to keep up to date with Featured content and can’t rely on your memory then subscribe via our RSS Feed.
Choosing a single track from any of Todd Tobias‘s shadowy instrumental albums offers a tantalising glimpse into his intoxicating universe of sound. In the case of ‘Night of the Clubfoot’, the opening track of Medicine Show, a distorted electric guitar weaves a gorgeous, unexpected melodic progression over a doomy dirge. If Medicine Show is a movie, then ‘Night of the Clubfoot’ is the curtain drawing back to reveal something horrible and hypnotic. This is atmospheric instrumental rock staggering through a glass darkly; a fantastical world that’s deep and dangerous enough to lose yourself in.
Everything about ‘Inventors’ is absolutely perfect: the chord sequence, in one of Kramies‘ usual weird tunings; the shimmering lead guitar work by David Paolucci; Todd Tobias’s production – and it’s all wrapped up in just over 3 minutes. I’m almost embarrassed to admit it, but I’m fondly reminded of ‘Spies’ from Coldplay’s debut album Parachutes, before they became one of the biggest bands in the world. ‘Inventors’ has a similar understated grandeur that’s subtly devastating.
A beautiful sister mix to Markus Mehr‘s previous Kitsch before Glitch mixtape. This time around Mehr takes us from David Sylvian to Thomas Köner to Aphex Twin to The Beatles and beyond. Let’s hand it over to the man himself to explain,
“This is the ‘sister’ to my previous mixtape, Kitsch Before Glitch – but they’re not identical twins. This mix is the complete opposite of the last. It’s music that has attracted me and moved me over the last six or seven months.
It starts with David Sylvian’s ‘Darkest Dreaming’, a beautiful miniature I rediscovered last summer when I was finishing the album Binary Rooms. I played it in the morning, before I started working, for an A/B mix comparison, during the breaks, and again at the end of the day. I am addicted to this song. It makes me remember my taxi driver days, when I would record one song onto tape over and over again (such as ‘Heartbeat’ by Sakamoto/Sylvian, ‘Don’t Want To Know If You Are Lonely’ by Hüsker Dü, or ‘Someone To Pull The Trigger’ by Matthew Sweet), then listen on repeat the whole night through.
After this intro you’ll hear a lot of outstanding music released in 2014, previously unreleased music, tracks from colleagues and with colleagues, and some hard-to-find electronic classics of the early ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s. And it ends with The Beatles’… by accident. If you’ve been listening to the whole tape, you are definitely also a ‘Fool On The Hill’ – a very nice one.”
– Markus Mehr
It’s hard to believe Sicilian quintet HC-B released their masterpiece Soundcheck for a Missing Movie back in 2009. Those who thought this was the last great sonic document from the band will be pleased to know it’s not and that we have some exciting news on what’s to come from HC-B in 2015 (soon!). So what better time to reflect on one of the centerpieces of Soundcheck for a Missing Movie, ‘Hot Afternoon in The Bull’s Square’. Now I had planned to wax lyrical about this song as it excites me every time I listen to it, but then I stumbled on a quote from the awesome US college radio station WRUV that summed up everything I wanted to say,
“Quality Instrumental Post-Rock with a fierce emotion that will blast your face off for its entirety… The songs blend together to form a tsunami of shredding guitars, loud violins, free horns, booming basses and hammering drums… One of the greatest of its genre.” – WRUV
Now listen and hear why every word of that quote is spot on.
On the latest Hidden Shoal mixtape, German ambient artist Kryshe picked tracks from cherished albums he owns on vinyl. The mix traces a line from ’70s German kosmische through to Talk Talk’s majestic ‘Wealth’, taking in instrumental touchstones such as Klaus Schulze, Olafur Arnalds and A Winged Victory For The Sullen along the way. In moving between cosmic synthesized soundscapes and the intimate tones of strings and piano, Kryshe explores the myriad influences that have shaped his own exquisitely subtle and detailed ambient work.
Kryshe is the live and studio-based ambient project of German musician Christian Grothe. Grothe’s music often evolves from live improvisation sessions, incorporating sound-manipulation software such as max/msp to develop a richly layered yet spacious sound. Grothe is also a member of the improvisational trio Unland, featuring ambient artist Jonas Meyer and clarinetist Shabnam Pavaresh. His releases to date are the Dreamland and In Between EPs, and the full-length release Growing. Listen to Kryshe’s music and learn more about the artist here.
Giuseppe Musmeci is a man of many talents. He’s a self-taught composer, guitarist, electronic musician and member of the Italian post-rock outfit HC-B. His work under the Willem Gator moniker is a beautiful tapestry of atmospheric down-tempo, big basslines and oriental instrumentation, often counterpointed by urgent and angular beat-driven explorations. He creates music that is not only about ‘place’, but also deeply embedded in its own place of construction and composition. His pivotal 2011 album Hong Kong Express is testament to this approach, composed while the artist lived in a ‘cubby hole’ apartment in Kowloon.
So let’s hand it over to Giuseppe as we ask him to pull three questions out of the bag…
Who is your dream collaborator?
Definitely Peter Hook from Joy Division-New Order!
Describe your musical career in 6 words or less.
Traveling, observe, breathe, absorb and release …
If you were writing a soundtrack/score, what director would you most want to work with?
Al Smith, working under his DrAlienSmith moniker, makes big music and this is no further evidenced than on the track ‘Guth and Zeno’ lifted from his debut EP Under Songs. The scope of this song is not simply due to its broad, monolothic, yet layered sonic palette but also extends to the temporal and almost geophysical landscape it generates. The shifts between cavernous interstellar terraforming and atmos-laden solitude and reflection are incredibly striking and make for an emotive listening experience. This is a story too big for words and a film too visual for image. Stunning stuff!
This beautiful new installment in our mixtape series comes from Hidden Shoal partner and Art Director, Stuart Medley. So without further rambling let’s hand it over to Stu to introduce the mix,
“This mixtape is all instrumental, but for me it gives voice to the essence of Hidden Shoal’s sublime cinematic spirit. I press play and the pictures begin flickering to life. Why do particular pieces of music get inside while others merely bounce off? As a visual creator, the music that takes hold of me connects synaesthetically to the kinds of pictures that have always arrested me, and are somehow necessary. Albert Camus said “A man’s work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened” (L’Envers Et L’Endroit, 1958). This mixtape brims with tunes that for me project those pictures in my mind and remind me that there is already an entire world within Hidden Shoal, wheeling through the cosmos. I hope the wheel can take other listeners back around to their important images. What pictures made you?” – Stuart Medley, Art Director and Hidden Shoal Partner
Slow Dancing Society has become an institution in the ambient scene, with each successive album holding true to a core sound while gracefully evolving. Drew Sullivan’s releases are neither by-the-book ambient nor exercises in structuralism, rather music that is birthed from emotion and feeling, then given form. Each song is a soundtrack to a moment; sonic photography painstakingly developed until its emotional hues are brought into focus. His latest EP, The Dusk Recital, is a delicious little side-step for the Slow Dancing Society project, as Sullivan employ more beats and overt ’90s dream-pop references.
So without further rambling, we ask Drew to reach into the bag and pull out three questions…
Describe your musical career in 6 words or less
Hidden Shoal believed in my sound
What’s your most treasured item of musical gear?
Omnisphere by Spectrasonics. It is “THE” synth to have. I really don’t know what I’d do without that synth. A close second is my Fender Stratocaster. Oh and my Fender Bass VI…ok I can’t really name just one, but those 3 are the total foundation of the Slow Dancing Society sound.
What’s the best show you’ve ever been to?
There’s been a lot of great ones that are still with me today, but I’d have to say Marilyn Manson on the Mechanical Animals tour. This was at the height of his showmanship and I truly loved that album over all of this others as it had that 80’s sound before really anyone else was doing it.
The ever wonderful Ian Hazeldine, aka Antonymes, steps up to the plate and presents the next installment in our MixTape series. Those who follow the work of Hazeldine will know his work under the Antonymes moniker is as much about timing as it is about texture and melody. How perfect then that this mixtape should focus so heavily on a genre that is all about timing, jazz. Not only that, the mix is based around a wonderful conceit as explained by the artist below,
“The concept for this mix has been stuck in my head for several years now. Each track in the mix is in the same position it would be in on the album it came from. For example, Questar is track one on Keith Jarrett’s My Song, Caravan! is track two on The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble’s Here Be Dragons. You get the picture.
Normally when I prepare for a mmix I start with a whole bunch of tracks and end up only using half. It usually comes together very quickly. With this mix I started with a single track and built it from there, not really knowing where it was going to end up.
It’s a mix filled with old favourites and newer discoveries. I hope you enjoy it.” – Ian Hazeldine