electrofolk,folktronica,Tape,Häpna,Sven Kacirek,Teaism,Dollboy,Serafina Steer,Xela,Tunng,Kama Aina,Ernest Gonzales,Hauschka,Motoomi Doi,Serph
CHAMBER-FOLK-POP, FOLKTRONICA, LAPTOP-FOLK,
& SUBTLE CONSTRUCTIONS-POP
review page 3

Tape ('08)
Hamilton Yarns ('07)
Sven Kacirek ('08)
V.A. (the Falling Leaves Compilation) ('06)
V.A.: Teaism ('08)
Kama Aina ('08)
Ernest Gonzales ('10)
Hauschka ('11)
Motoomi Doi ('13)
Serph ('13)

On different pages : Sepia Hours ('07), Gablé ('11), DVA ('10), Tsembla ('13)

HäpnaTape : Luminarium (S,2008)****

Tape is a trio with brothers Andreas and Johan Berthling with Tomas Hallonsten. This is their fourth album. Their latest album dated already from 2005 and was produced by Marcus Schmickler. In 2006 they also had collaborated with Japanese duo Tenniscoats for one album, and with Japanese quartet Minamo for another album.

Fundamentally you can say this is very relaxed, moody, lush music based upon a combination of (often two layers of) acoustic, amplified or pedalled guitars with sometimes (also two more layers of) analogue overtone-sensitive keyboards, and also, some electronic subtle sounds which come through naturally like crickets in the background, and a few subtle touches of feathered drums, and what sounds like a trumpet. At its best the group creates a perfect alternative for a natural environment. The instruments, sounds and overtone colours are perfectly adapted to one another. But there are also outro-like improvisations which use minimal patterns in circular movements. Beautiful. 

Release info : http://www.dense.de/news.html#tape
Label info : http://www.hapna.com/H42.html
Homepage : http://www.kunst.no/berthling/tape/
Other review with audio : http://www.boomkat.com/item.cfm?id=88496
Other review : http://www.dotshop.se/ds/release.php?code=H42CD
Hark!  Hamilton Yarns : Search For The Underwater Town -2cdr- (UK,2007)***''

Hamilton Yarns recorded a very nice LP last year, which I listed in the acid-folk section (review here). I could actually also list this new double CDR in this other section, with new chamber music crossovers/theatre-like involved music. There are so many layers of arrangements this often is like a partly abstract, partly descriptive but always harmonious new chamber music, which evolves like a theatre piece.

Especially the first part, (the first album), standing for ‘the future man’, resembles to me like a sublime masterpiece built from many acoustic layers of arrangements, of minimal piano, textures of harmonica, toypiano, glockenspiel, fingered acoustic guitar, close harmony keyboards, clicking tictoc rhythms and other environmental interwoven intermissions (a bit like on Cocorosie’s first album), little brass arrangements (a bit like Sufjan Stevens, if you wish, but made with a feeling for the abstract muse), strange like Residents, but more made for normal harmonies, if not still a part of an unknown world, harmony vocal arrangements, following as much tunes as making new discoveries all the time, colourful and playful.

The second album, standing for ‘the primal man’ sounds more human, earthly, with perspectives on environments, evolving like a folk dance as a matter of saying, finding a little drone, it is a bit more predictable but never the less is very enjoyable listening.

Audio : "One Hand in the Casket", "Bess", "Crowd around the People", "Search for the Underwater Town", "Walking In", "Wade Across the Paddock", "Industrial Revolt", "Diggers Lament" & http://www.myspace.com/thehamiltonyarns & http://www.myspace.com/harkrecordings
Homepage : http://www.hamiltonyarns.co.uk/

Previous release was reviewed on http://www.psychedelicfolk.com/acidfolkreview11.html
Pingipung    Sven Kacirek : The Palmin Sessions (D,2007)****

While Sven Kacirek’s beautiful music sounds like a partial laptop construction, it has vibraphones and family of sound-related instruments (like marimba, tube-glockenspiel,..), which are constantly combined with one another, which are at least half of the music, following melodic rhythmic coming-from-miniatures-in-essence-vibes broadened by the warm, jazzy, opening-up rhythmical breathing of the music. The percussion is also semi-acoustic, based upon found-sounds (door, glass, paper,..) and mostly brushed percussion. Some vocals are added here and there (the second track with some Billie Holliday lyrics), and there’s a horn arrangement on the background (Jan Carstensen : clarinet, Ansgar Adamski : trombone, Pitt Kröncke : trumpet).

Sven Kacirek also wrote a book on creative concepts for drum and bass, and another book called 'Secret Drum Grooves' about "what you can do by flipping over your snaredrums or by using different loopmachines in combination with your acoustic setup", both in German.

Audio : "Comes a headache"  & info : http://www.myspace.com/skacirek
Audio on http://www.boomkat.com/item.cfm?id=114290
Label info : http://www.pingipung.de/_music/info_svenkacirek.htm
Homepage : http://www.svenkacirek.de
Other review : http://www.digitalisindustries.com/foxyd/reviews.php?which=2140
German review : http://www.triggerfish.de/...

More recent release reviewed on http://www.psychemusic.org/Africa6.html#anchor_278
Catch The falling Leaves   V.A. : Catch The falling Leaves Compilation
-cdr- (SP/FIN/CAN,2006)***°

This was the first release on this new net-only cdr-label, of which 4 of the contributors are more or less like-minded spirits with comparable approaches, of which all 5 still vary between mostly acoustic and totally electronic, of which the 5th contributor (Make, aka Marko Vierimaa), possible the owner, fits ok, but also is much simpler, linear and monotone in approach compared to those living with something of the best of both worlds.
.Tape. (not to confuse with the somewhat comparable Swedish band with the same core name, reviewed here even on the same page) based his first track on cooperative layers of guitars, sampled percussion loops (hand clap percussion and a darbuka sample), while he also sings on top, with an intelligent complexity as result. It is only a bit disappointing to hear how for his second track he used a whole amount of the same samples, and also the use of loops becomes more visible. Bacanal Intrudor’s track after tape’s intro fit perfectly after. His sonic palette is based upon acoustic guitars and something like toy keyboards (?), -it is I think laptop based. Aitänna77’s first track continues with the acoustic nylon guitars, adds electric fuzz guitars, and plays this all very rhythmical. They are clearly least involved in electronica. Their second track later on is based upon glockenspiel, guitars, harmonium and some subtly clicks, pulsating forward with some emotion, step by step. Like I already said, Make’s approach is totally electronic, uses straight forward rhythms and keyboard playing, and there’s also no spatial awareness. It is still entertaining but is much more of an 80s mono-Kraftwerk approach compared to the laptop age of the more-dimensional home productions. One more contributing band is The Banjo Consortium, another one-man band who uses guitars, bass and electronica, music of a home studio as a different sort of moody instrumental pop music, not always equally spatially abstract, and much more with the idea of a real one-man band performance, nice to listen too. Fubsan’s approach is keyboard/electronica based, while also taking care of each level in tones, on the first track, with also for the second track some electronica pop instrumental with additional fuzz guitars.

A nice to listen to compilation..

Audio & info : http://www.myspace.com/catchingleaves
Label : http://catchtheleaves.org/
with info : http://web5.t489.greatnet.de/web/wordpress/?page_id=8

- contributing bands :
*.Tape. homepage : http://www.ambulatore.com/.tape./
* Bacanal Intruder homepage : www.bacanal-intruder.tk/
  & http://www.myspace.com/bacanalintruder
* Aitänna77 pages : www.aitanna77.net/ & www.myspace.com/aitanna77
  Other Aitänna77 release reviewed on http://psychedelicfolk.com/psychfolkpopreview6.html
* Fubsan : http://treehouse.catchtheleaves.org/ & http://www.myspace.com/fubsan¨
* The Banjo Consorium : http://www.thebanjoconsorsium.com/
  & http://www.myspace.com/thebanjoconsorsium
Static Caravan   V.A. : "TEAISM" music inspired by the art and culture of tea (UK,2008)***

I liked the idea of a compilation inspired by the making of, drinking and cultivating and the culture around tea (something which exists in fact especially in Japan and somewhat in England). I wondered how much, in this case, this conceptual idea was inspired by another album I have reviewed before which was inspired by dishes in general (although that one looked like a CD for soup, like “soup music”) ; the front cover even looked similar, so I needed to have this one too, and check it out, and have tea with it (I fail biscuits). Of course, on the intro especially you hear the making of tea in the background as well. Remember Pink Floyd’s “Allan’s Psychedelic Breakfast” which included not only the tea making, but also egg baking, morning talks and flashing matches to put on the gas with the music, a revelation this was, back in 1967. Max De Wanderer’s dulcimer strums with kettle boiling and its whistle softly coming up of course recalls this last moment, in all its simplicity.
Every track from then on follows perfectly in the next one. It starts with a few tracks which are loop/feedback ambient softpop music with some melodic brightness, which are kitchen and having-tea friendly. Like the tea sinking with clouds in the water, some ticking rhythms (at times like a clock), are added, with soft and sweet and warm electronica like folktronica, like sweet-beats, with Tunng providing the first pop moment, at the right moment, and with all the available and built up elements within reach, followed by a jazzy track (Root70) with equally light rhythms, and light-funny in nature, continuing the feeling that this is all about happy moments, with tea sharing, and an electropop track (Qua), still keeping the lightness in it, before settling down more subtle and with warmer sounds again after that (Dollboy), with the sounds of the kettle used as a sad but light feeling of goodbye while looking at the kettle one more last time (Xela), the album still has a conclusion with one more light jazzy song, as if from an old time nature, recalling the good times..good bye tea (Cibelle with Josh Weller). A great release, for having tea. I still miss a biscuit.

Audio : Max de Wardener :"Kettle Song", The Break-Ups :"Assam", Inch-Time : "Snow Jewel", Serafina Steer : "Mr Sands Has Left The Building", Tunng : "Shove It", Dollboy : "One Liner" ; Xela :"Genmaicha Dorou",
and on http://www.juno.co.uk/... & one track on http://inchtimemusic.wordpress.com/
Label info : http://www.staticcaravan.org/item.asp?Ref=154
and Homepage with audio : http://www.teaism.net/
Review with audio : http://www.boomkat.com/item.cfm?id=139112
Other review on http://www.dotshop.se/...
& http://www.dollboy.co.uk/info.html
French review on http://ondefixe.over-blog.com/article-22947133.html
Rumracket   Club Kama Aina (JAP/UK,2008)****

‘Club Kama Aina’ sounds as much a CD title as a group title, a if saying he invited some friends in his club of sounds and compositions, an enjoyable home-warmth recorded music with collage-based compositional building of an ever evolving mood with colourfully changing elements of minimalism (like environmental and collected sound collages, logically added like gentle colour swifts in the environment but becoming part of the rhythmic backgrounds, ticking on the rhythm of a clock cup of tea rhythms, all sorts of instruments adding connected parts to the mood compositions. Several tracks feature contributions of members of The Pastels (vocals, pixiphone) with its occasional participants like Isobel Campbell (former Belle & Sebastian) on cello and Bill Wells on piano and accordion. Also this band (with Kama Aina I think on a smooth acoustic bass here too besides his usual variety of instruments, like guitar banjo, xylophone, minimal piano and small percussive instruments) improvises like a waking up jazz-folk-pop band into the same atmosphere. This general mood is light, calm, moody : meditative in essence, and luckily also more playful and colourful than minimal. Perfect music to guide a romantic candle light dinner mood.

(Released on Efterklang's label).

Audio : "Millport","Hotaru","Wedding Song","Cubali Street Scene"
Info & audio : http://www.myspace.com/clubkamaaina
Label : http://rumraket.com/
Review with audio : http://www.boomkat.com/item.cfm?id=24774
Other reviews : http://www.incendiarymag.com/...
& http://www.melancholyrhino.com/reviews/club_kama_aina.html
& http://thesilentballet.com/dnn/Home/tabid/36/ctl/Details/mid/384/ItemID/226/Default.aspx
& http://www.new-noise.net/album-reviews/...
& http://www.dotshop.se/ds/release.php?code=RUM005CD
& http://www.musiquemachine.com/reviews/reviews_template.php?id=922

Previous albums are reviewed on http://psychemusic.org/JAPANreviews3.html
FoF Music   Ernest Gonzales : Been Meaning To Tell You (US,2010)***'

Ernest Gonzales has delivered a nice to listen to private studio experience of instrumental pop songs which basically aren’t very different from the 80s wave/electropop period, with a fundament of catchy simple melodies on keyboards and repetitive bass patterns, except for that this is a laptop/folktronica experience for a new century. This is very moody, and with use of subtle and colourful sounds. We hear a combination of warm organ melodies, fuzz bass keyboards, glockenspiel, acoustic and electrified guitar pickings with some reverb guitar effects, handclap rhythms and fast laptop drums arrangements, and a few blips and beeps and an occasional baroque Commodore arrangement. The pieces are carefully built up with many layers which are added or removed in frame structures with every few steady rhythmic period. Really catchy moody pop music.

Info & audio : http://www.myspace.com/theoryofeverything
Homepage : http://www.beenmeaningtotellyou.com/
Label : http://www.fofmusic.net/?p=715
Other reviews : http://larecord.com/album-reviews/...
& http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/119878-ernest-gonzales-been-meaning-to-tell-you
& http://www.tinymixtapes.com/music-review/Ernest-Gonzales-Been-Meaning-to-Tell-You
Fat-Cat Records    Hauschka : Salon Des Amateurs (D,2011)****'

I must say that I am happily surprised with the evolution of Hauschka’s music which before had very many elements of minimalism, here this bridged (from the second track onwards especially) towards a totally different world, turning into a 'carnivale' of most often rather poppy and danceable tunes, happy colourful swings that seems to be coming from half-automated musical machines with sounds from piano and prepared piano’s mixed with a few other instruments like accordion and bass. I imagine the machine that produces these sounds is like a gigantic typing machine with access to a lot of different sounds of instruments, with each sound in beautiful difference and harmony with one another, like a big band swinging on a rhythm rather than repeating the melodies and patterns. The ninth track has some additional beautiful brass arrangements.  This well produced attraction shows brilliance, is dedicated to the vibrant event of the “salon des amateurs”, a Düsseldorf event founded in 2004 in the local museum hall led by a collective of artists, students and DJ’s. 

Info & audio : http://www.myspace.com/hauschka
Label info : http://fat-cat.co.uk/fatcat/release.php?id=351
Other reviews : http://www.themilkfactory.co.uk/...
& http://www.agent2magazine.com/music/hauschka-salon-des-amateurs/
& http://hangout.altsounds.com/news/...






Noble Label    Motoomi Doi : The Illuminated Nightingale (JP,2013)***/****

Long time ago since I have heard any folktronic related release. The Japanese one-man band Motoomi Doi delivers us a CD that has aspects of bedroom lullabies with a slightly odd, almost outsider and somewhat breathy or soft voice as if never having been outside a children’s bedroom once except from the wide window view and vision upon the city, with just a slight introverted melancholic touch, at the same time the music itself is catchy, often even poppy and light, melodic and bright. The arrangements have acoustic guitar (one song especially), keyboards, soft vivid percussion, some drums, arrangements with an almost programmed laptop craftsmanship. In between softer modes are poppier tunes. Very enjoyable.

Audio: http://www.youtube.com/...
& http://soundcloud.com/noble_label/motoomi-doi-dark-nighit
Info : http://www.noble-label.net/catalog/?en&code=NBL-209
& http://dense.de/news.html#motoomi

Noble Label    Serph : El Esperanka (JP,2013)***°

Serph, is even more arranged with detail and with more laptop-based, colourful variations of sound processing compared to Motoomi Doi, also released on the same label. It has also some catchy and poppy, swinging elements and is really loaded in mostly light and bright way of adding arrangements, partly orchestrated, electronic and acoustic), rich in colour.  The rhythms are a mixture of enjoyment as if they are often played with fingers and hands (handclaps), although I think they are partly programmed. Piano is one of the main instruments too. There is use of laptop looped arrangements and detailed tone repetitions, mixed with the acoustic and melodic elements, in a rhythmical poppy mode, rich with orchestration and instruments. The track “Vesta” is a mixture of a rhythmically processed automated music machine, with additional strings and piano arrangements. This sounds a bit Zappa-like at some moments, is led by jazz piano elsewhere, and is more like orchestrated pop a bit further on. “Parade” includes elements like a pipe organ, Ping-Pong rhythms; the end result shows joyful marching parade pop music. “Ankh” is another collage with more minimalist jazz piano, strange changes in collage and accents, showing several more changes too. On “Wizardmix” the electronic mix dominates, with faster colourful, sometimes clicking rhythms. Other tracks have a few more acoustic elements. “Vitt” starts from a jazzy piano improvisation with additional programmed rhythms and keyboards, and also more loop repetition effects. We also hear some dreamy voice and orchestrations on the mostly keyboard dominated track “Rem”.

Audio: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CH4n490gi4
Info : http://www.noble-label.net/catalog/?en&code=NBL-207


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