Shots: Nova Materia, Dan Davies, Friends Of The Oval, Philip Jeck, Fading Tapes

NOVA MATERIA – XPUJIL (Crammed Discs / Made To Measure) 

Released through Crammed Discs’ rebooted Made To Measure series, Xpujil is the work of Paris-based Chilean duo Nova Materia (Caroline Chaspoul and Eduardo Henriquez). The album takes the form of a journey through the Mexican jungle to the ruined Mayan metropolis of Xpujil. Along the way, they made a series of field recordings, which were then processed back in Paris into a single 40-minute soundscape. Deeply ambient and full of inexplicable, ephemeral mystery, the overall impression left by Xpujil is one of absence – of people, of nature itself, of context, of explanation. Few recordings have managed to exhibit such an engaging sonic quality through layers of percussion, haunting wooden flutes and delicate electronic textures, while also remaining purposefully silent. The piece was rounded out by contributions from DNA’s venerable Ikue Mori and cellist Gaspar Claus. Released June 25 2021.


Truth, Beauty And Goodness consists of 15 pieces created by sound and visual artist Dan Davies, each one a specific response to a space or piece of art in and around Milton Keynes’ Campbell Park. Taking the form of a soundwalk commissioned for the 2021 IF: Milton Keynes International Festival, Davies used a combination of field recordings, sounds produced by ‘playing’ the various sculptures, electromagnetic recordings and delicate composition to accompany each piece. The results range from thought-provoking explorations of memory to angry pulses of raw energy. Read more about Truth, Beauty And Goodness in my interview with Davies for Pooleyvile, available hereReleased July 10 2021.


Friends Of The Oval is a New York trio of vocalist Julia Farhat, electronic musician David Mason (aka Listening Center) and film director Michael Idov, and the evocative, orchestral ‘Adventurer’ is taken from the soundtrack to Idov’s JETLAG. ‘Adventurer’ is an exercise in delicate subtlety, Farhat’s sensitive voice barely rising above an ephemeral whisper yet yielding an intense, surging emotional poignancy. The strings recall The Balanescu Quartet at their most stirring, while Mason’s production style restrains a haunting synth sequence to the role of a mere gesture, never once distracting from Ivan Abramov’s string arrangements. After a decade of sporadic film music projects together, a Friends Of The Oval album is being worked on; on the strength of ‘Adventurer’, expect it to leave an indelible mark on your soul. Released July 28 2021.


This Is The Hour Of Lead – is Liverpool sound artist Philip Jeck’s contribution to Touch’s second subscription service of the last two years. Inspired by Emily Dickinson’s pike ‘After Great Pain, A Formal Feeling Comes –‘. His piece is a thoughtful, reflective moment, using orchestral sounds and blocks of mournful texture to convey a sense of the weight of the world that we’ve felt bearing down in us. A noisy moment of clattering found sound at the midpoint jerks you forcibly out of your maudlin thoughts before plunging you straight back in. Released July 29 2021.

FADING TAPES – CARTOGRAPHER (Panurus Productions) 

Fading Tapes is a Polish duo of Krzysztof Siwkowski (guitars, effects) and Marcin Lasek (percussion, radios). For the four long tracks that comprise latest album Cartographer, they are joined by vocalist Aleksandra, whose occasional vocals and chanting float, wraith-like above the symbiotic dynamic offered by Siwkowski and Lasek. Across the four pieces – ‘East Valley’, ‘Bones’, ‘Boats’, ‘Dry Red Land’ – there is an emphasis on dense layers of intense subtlety. Barrages of percussion dominate, but they are (until the second half of ‘Dry Red Land’) quietly restrained, occasionally heading in the direction of interlocking motorik grooves or wild gestures, but Lasek’s playing remains acutely delicate. Around his kit, Siwkowski floats ominous basslines and wiry, chiming guitars, but he again eschews histrionics in favour of something much more contemplative. And yet, in spite of their collective restraint, these four tracks each resolve themselves into a firm, transcendent, psychedelic euphoria. Truly immersive and ever-so-slightly mind-altering. Released August 4 2021.

Words: Mat Smith 

(c) 2021 Further. 

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