Hidden Shoal News
Hidden Shoal is excited to announce the release of the first single lifted from the self-titled debut album by The Slanted City, the new minimalist pop project from Erik Nilsson. ‘False Starts’ is available now via Spotify, Bandcamp and SoundCloud ahead of the album release on the 9th of October 2020.
The Slanted City sees Erik Nilsson shape the experimental instrumental work of his previous two Hidden Shoal releases with his exquisite sense of songcraft and pop nous. The delicate marriage of melody and tone in opener ‘Density’ typifies The Slanted City’s elegance and charm. Each part feels carefully placed, the song’s robust structure swaggering and shifting over its 5-minute runtime. Single ‘False Starts’ is as if Split Enz collaborated with King of Limbs-era Radiohead, insistent rhythms interplaying with expansive guitars, synths and Nilsson’s vocal repetitions reminiscent of Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard.
Gentle lullaby ‘Further’ hypnotises with its melancholic piano refrain, hushed vocals and subdued sonic treatments. And ‘Don’t Think of an Elephant’ further emphasises Nilsson’s compositional restraint as he gently marries the song’s two distinct movements before unleashing a wonderful fuzz guitar crescendo. Across these nine tracks and 43 minutes, Nilsson demonstrates a master craftsman’s attention to detail, resulting in an album that blooms on repeat listens.
Hidden Shoal is excited to announce the release of Soviet Cities on the Moon, the epic debut release from Paraphon. The album is available for download now via Bandcamp and is also available for licensing (film, tv, web etc) via Hidden Shoal.
Soviet Cities on the Moon is a soundtrack for interstellar travel. Like a warm, electronic bath it suspends the listener in its lush, sweeping tones and arpeggiated rhythms. This is the future we were promised but never eventuated. Paraphon crafts sprawling, mesmeric synthscapes for a future that never eventuated. This is cinematic music in the truest sense – immersive, narrative driven and emotive.
Check out this awesome feature and mini-interview with Jake McFee (aka Rewilding) over at Anchorage Press. Jake talks about the new album, Rain Patch, and his experience as a Park Ranger at The Grand Canyon and Glacier Bay.
Following on from 2017’s self-titled debut album, Rain Patch continues Rewilding’s exploration of the neglected, dusty spaces found between lo-fi indie-pop, post-rock and film soundtracks. While there are the obvious recent touchstones, such as Fridge, Beak and Olivia Tremor Control, and the less obvious, such as the soundtrack to cult 1980s sci-fi movie Liquid Sky, Rain Patch mines a primitive yet mesmerising vein of instrumental music in which process and result are intimately entwined. The songs on Rain Patch are their own ecosystems, requiring the listener to step inside to fully experience their vivid details.
We’re excited to announce the release of Blue Herons, the new split 7″ from Karl Blau & The World of Dust. These two gorgeous tracks will be released through the wonderful Tiny Room Records with licensing of The World of Dust track ‘The Life of Gods’ through Hidden Shoal. The vinyl is limited to a run of 200. Head to the Tiny Room Records Bandcamp to buy and head to Spotify, iTunes and the rest to stream and download. Check out the video for ‘The Life of Gods’ via YouTube and stream the track on SoundCloud.
Karl Blau (USA) and Stefan Breuer from The World of Dust (NL) cross paths when they perform together in an old mill in The Netherlands, September 2017. Being a longtime admirer of Blau’s work (both solo and with The Microphones, Laura Veirs and LAKE), Breuer was touched by the unfiltered niceness and sincerity of the person behind this music. They stayed in contact and decided to make a record together.
Karl Blau recorded his side of the vinyl ‘Slightly Salted’ in Germantown, Philadelphia, where he currently resides with his family. The song was originally written by Bryan Elliott and recorded by his band Pounding Serfs in 1989. Since then, it more or less became the theme song to Anacortes, Washington (also the home of Mount Eerie and Beat Happening). The lovely, seaside village of Anacortes was Blau’s home for 25 years, until his recent move to Philadelphia. Spiritually he may still be found in Anacortes of Skagit Valley, northwest Washington State.
Four years ago, Stefan Breuer and his family moved out of Hoograven, Utrecht to a nearby village called Bilthoven. Hoograven is a grey neighbourhood with a lot of flats, sandwiched between two busy highways. Apart from the uninspiring surroundings, the vibe was unfriendly and hostile. Eventually, Breuer and his wife decided not to raise their kids in Hoograven. In Bilthoven they found peace, serenity, and woods. The first half of ‘The Life of Gods’ is about Hoograven, the second half is about Bilthoven.
The music of The World of Dust is available for licensing (film, tv, web and more) via Hidden Shoal. Contact us for more details.
With the release of his new album Brief Conversations, Markus Mehr has delivered a stunning marriage of musicality and acoustic experimentalism. Through the capture and transformation of the sounds of the internal spaces we inhabit, Mehr presents a new kind of magical realism. With all those heady ideas in mind we thought it was the perfect time to sit down with him and have a chat.
How are you managing in the current German lockdown?
I’m mostly at home. Since my studio is also at home, I spend even a little more time there. Of course I miss the opportunity to move freely and to meet friends. But in general, the corona crisis does not restrict me too much personally, neither physically nor mentally. My travel and consumer behaviour is generally not particularly extensive, so the quarantine hits me less hard than maybe others. The difficult part for all of us will occur after the lockdown I guess.
It was a slow process. I come from a rock background and at a certain point, however, there was a longing to start something new, to refresh things. So I focused my interest on electronic music but soon I noticed that it was not only about changing the field. I was chasing away more instruments than I added and suddenly there were tracks without a beat, without a meter, no melodies, no recognisable structures. That’s it, complete freedom. Our release history also shows very nicely that this development is a process that continues to this day and I hope this kind of naivety will go on as long as I release something.
Can you tell us what inspired you to create Brief Conversations
During the preparations for a commissioned work (EDIT 1/0/0/0, Moritzkirche, Augsburg) in September 2019, I had the opportunity to do recordings all alone in this beautiful, pure church. Just listening to this room several nights was a very inspiring experience. This gave rise to the idea of developing this approach, recording different rooms with different shapes, recording the quiet. To listen to what a room has to tell us – the sounds it creates, sounds which can be generated in it by different impulses – fascinated me. Brief Conversations describes these dialogues and summarises it in sonic narratives.
Can you give an overview of the kinds of processes involved in the recording and production of this album?
It starts with the recordings. My field recordings are always the basis. They often happen by chance. Some are also planned because I noticed a sound event the day before or because something attracts me, for example an empty parking garage, a stairwell, a tunnel or a synagogue. After capturing sounds I look into the recordings almost microscopically, searching for lively and emotional aspects. These can be rhythmic or harmonic elements. All sounds that have something to tell are considered. In order to create something new, I use tools like most “normal” musicians: pitch shifting, time manipulation, modulation effects, delays, equalisers, distortion. The resulting components, which add something to the dramaturgy and the dynamics of the story, remain in the track; the others get chipped away.
Can you outline how one of the tracks off Brief Conversations evolved, from the original sourcing of the sounds through to the refinement of the composition?
Ah yeah … I think of ‘Shelter’. I got permission to take pictures in a huge, disused gas tank. And when I was ready to record, the worst storm that can be imagined broke out. No hope of improvement for the rest of the day. Everything I recorded was covered with this kind of white noise, generated by the wind and the pounding rain. In response, I started stamping my feet and making loud noises to deal with the annoying noise. Fortunately, I also packed my contact microphone and recorded additionally the very deep resonance of the walls and railings. When I got home after hours I was sure that the recordings could not be used. But wrong: the contact microphones – with some support from the Mini Moog – form the foundation of the track. The percussive stamping and hits are almost unprocessed and with a pinch of digital sophistication I was able to elicit a few spherical and even harmonious elements from the room recordings. If one listens superficially, ‘Shelter’ may have a more synthetic appearance. In fact, it is a purely electro-acoustic piece. With field recordings you rarely get exactly what you expect.
How important is the conceptual aspect of your work?
Very important. In the past few years I have been working conceptually only. Before I start working on something new I think about things and do some research. Collecting and sculpting new music is preceded by a theoretical process… most of the time. And once a concept is conclusive, I try to stick to it as much as possible. I think it’s like writing a book. You have to have in mind the whole story and bit by bit you invent the narrative strands and the characters.
What are you listening to right now?
BBC 6 Music.
Favourite releases of 2020 so far?
Acoustic Shadows by Lea Belucci, The Experience of Repetition as Death by Clarice Jensen and Motus by Thomas Köner are really inspiring records. Radio France broadcast a piece by Jim O’Rourke called Shutting Down Here (still available online). I was there when they performed this piece originally in Paris at the INA-GRM Multiphonies Series. It’s just brilliant. And my friend DOT made an album called Monsters … so good.
What’s your next creative project?
Basically I’m concentrating on a sound installation. But just because it feels right at the moment I started playing around with stuff for cello, viola and violin. This is quite the opposite of what I’m doing normally. And because I’m not that much interested in playing live any more, my long-time live visual partner Stefanie Sixt and I will turn towards short films a bit more. We recently released Separate Waves Of One Ocean, and the next one could come out quite soon. And here and there I help recording stuff for Slowvox, the project of my girlfriend. I’m really happy about all this things….
We are very excited to be able to announce the release of Connected, the stunning fourth album by Perth-based ambient electronica artist Liminal Drifter. The album features new single ‘Choir on Mars‘ which has been tearing up the US college radio charts and currently sits at number two on the US College Chill chart! The album is available now via Bandcamp and all good streaming and digital services such as Spotify, iTunes and Amazon.
Following on from 2018’s wonderfully received The Dreams, Liminal Drifter delivers another suite of mesmeric electronica in his latest outing, Connected. Dripping with dub-inflected rhythms and intricate melodic tapestries, Connected is a collection of eight intangible travelscapes that touch on both the astral and the earthbound. The album’s buoyant and often uplifting electronica belies the conditions under which it was created. Born out of a period of personal trauma, Connected acts as a musical salve and a celebration of important moments. Opener ‘Choir on Mars’ is a playful invitation to enter Liminal Drifter’s bright musical space, its subtly phased electric piano playing against reverberant chords, crisp beats and breathy sampled voices. ‘Braxton’ brings to mind In Sides-era Orbital as it draws you inexorably into its centre. ‘Sheep Radio’ is a happy-to-be-sad slice of daydream-dub electronica, layered with intricate samples and an insistent yet delicate melodic progression. And closing track ‘Atlantean Shaman’ taps into a moody, reflective space, casting a majestic shadow across the preceding 40 minutes of music. The album also features the amazing artwork of Stuart Medley.
“a beautifully choreographed snapshot of the artist’s knack for the surreal, fluid mechanics of mid-90s electronic music shaped with current-era finesse” – Igloo Mag on The Dreams
The music of Liminal Drifter is available for licensing for film, tv, web, games and beyond via Hidden Shoal. Check here for more info.
Hidden Shoal is proud to announce the release of Brief Conversations, the ninth album by German experimental ambient artist Markus Mehr. The album is available now in digital and cassette formats via Bandcamp and digitally via Spotify, iTunes and most other platforms. Also be sure to check out the new music video for album track ‘Relief’ on YouTube.
Brief Conversations is Markus Mehr’s ode to the acoustic properties of the spaces we listen within. High-resolution recordings of rooms acted as the source material, which Mehr then alchemically blended into mesmerising ambient environments, rich with reverberant details. As Mehr explains: “Rooms communicate with us, we can listen to them. Their vocabulary includes their interior, their architecture and their surroundings. The material and arrangement of the walls and their volume determine their resonances and the nature of their reverberation. Thus each room has its own articulation, its own acoustic fingerprint.”
As the mediator between the sounds and their spatial containers, Mehr has exposed a level of granularity we so often ignore, re-shaping the raw materials into immersive new experiences. Despite its challenging conceptual nature, the album is undeniably sensuous and hypnotic, giving up its secrets slowly but surely with repeat listens.
The music of Markus Mehr is available for licensing for film, tv, web, games and beyond via Hidden Shoal. Check here for more info.
Following on from his brilliant 2016 EP with Daniel Bailey, Isometrik, and recent single ‘Vague Hope’, Glanko presents his epic new album of cinematic electronica, Remission. The album is available digitally now (Bandcamp, Spotify, iTunes etc) and for CD pre-order (CD release 19th May) via Bandcamp. Stream the first single, ‘Vague Hope’, via SoundCloud and YouTube.
A musical narrative played out over 12 tracks, Remission is unrelenting in its emotional and visceral grip. Each track acts as a world-builder, with urgent and insistent slices of widescreen noir electronica nestled amongst brooding atmospheric set pieces. Featuring collaborations with Marco Caricola, Kallax and Daniel Bailey, Remission is as transfixing as it is danceable.
“a masterclass in the use of space, poise and timing, a frail and fragile ghost light whose hypnotic lull comes teasingly shimmered in a sparse sleepy headed detailing” – The Sunday Experience on Glanko & Daniel Bailey’s ‘Isometrik’
Glanko is the musical moniker of Italian electronic composer Giuseppe Fallacara. For years, Fallacara played guitar in many bands, before beginning his explorations with electronic music in 2012. His debut album, Alset, was released in 2014. Isometrik, a joint EP with Daniel Bailey, was released on Hidden Shoal in 2016. Second solo album Osmosi was released in 2017. Remission is his third album – and his first full-length solo release for Hidden Shoal. On 22nd February 2020, Glanko will be opening for Janus Rasmussen (one half of Kiasmos with Ólafur Arnalds) at MAT Laboratorio Urbano in Terlizzi, Italy.
The music of Glanko is available for licensing for film, tv, web, games and beyond via Hidden Shoal. Check here for more info.
We’re excited to announce the release of a gorgeous new Memorybell track featured on a compilation from the Colorado Modular Synth Society. The album is available via Bandcamp as a ‘pay what you want.’ ‘Desire Line’ will appear on an LP that releases later this year on Hidden Shoal. In the meantime be sure to check out Memorybell’s stunning 2016 album Obsolete.
Memorybell’s music is available for licensing for film, tv, web, games and beyond via Hidden Shoal. Check here for more info.
Hidden Shoal is excited to announce the release of Inform, the epic new album by enigmatic Belgium project Battlestations. The album is available from Bandcamp, Spotify and a host of other online stores and streamers.
Inform is a six-part instrumental suite, composed to be experienced as a whole. Like all great dramatically charged art, tension and narrative thread throughout the album. The listener is immediately transported into a widescreen, otherworldly landscape, where lush synths create a dense atmospheric field, within which piano and guitar trace out delicate figures in the foreground. Each piece unfolds across five, six, seven minutes at a time, building on the previous track’s ambience and branching forth in fresh directions. From the sprawling synth-strings, electronic pulses and anti-gravity guitars of opener ‘Silencer’, through to the precarious emotional peak of finale ‘L’abîme’, the listener is left with no easy resolution.
“If music can be lovely enough to salvage such a soul from the ravages of hell, then this is it. Orpheus would be proud.” – A Closer Listen on Vixit
The music of Battlestations is available for licensing for film, tv, web, games and beyond via Hidden Shoal. Check here for more info.
Hidden Shoal MixTape
- The Slanted City – New Single and Forthcoming Debut Album
- Paraphon “Soviet Cities on the Moon”
- Rewilding Feature at Anchorage Press
- Karl Blau & The World of Dust – “Blue Herons” Split 7″
- Brief Conversations: An Interview with Markus Mehr