srijeda, 21. kolovoza 2013.

Zvuku - Remnant (2013)


Stvaranje novog prostora u stoljećima uspavanom sustavu pećina.
(Inače, Zvuku nije neki Čeh, nego Irac Karl McGrath.)

Remnant is a fierce whirlwind of intense cinematic activity. Zvuku is an Irish experimental composer who, with Remnant, has chosen to light the modern classical flame. Remnant’s monolithic structures, which are anything but remnants, should ensure that his name isn’t left in the shadowy underworld of the darkly lit genre. Bristling with electricity, Remnant graces both Heat Death Records and the impressive Futuresequence, with the prospect of a vinyl release on the former and a digital release on the latter.
Remnant is one of a growing number of releases to be funded online, via projects such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo. It is through an Indiegogo campaign that Remnant finds its home. On the site, there are options to fund a high quality vinyl release as well as a limited CDr run of remixes.
Remnant fits under the tag of modern composition, with dull coloured piano sections and headstrong, processed strings, but it presents itself as a larger, expansive sphere of uncertainty. Usually, we’re used to the tight-knit comfort of glowing strings and slow development. Remnant takes us through spacious passages that lead into sudden, solo piano lines. Due to the presence of an underlying, ominous drone, the pieces spread themselves widely – like teardrops of ink on paper – until a deep, cavernous arc of sound is revealed, Zvuku’s piano acting as the torchlight in a dark world.
Remnant could be the soundtrack for a silent motion picture that, literally, never saw the light of day. The intense stone walls of crumbling, ancient rock provide a harsher, edgy sound, descending over the jet-black, icy waters like thicker strands of ink.
It may feel familiar, but this is where the quality of the music really rises to the fore. Zvuku has a space all to his own in an otherwise claustrophobic setting; placing the music against deep-set angles that no-one else has, to date, created. Credit must also go to Taylor Deupree, who mastered the album.
Softer spheres decorate the outer layers of the music, made sustainable by a drop in tempo. ‘Coldsong’ lazily slows down the rhythm and the bpm, the drop helping to create even more space in a cave system that has been dormant for centuries. The intricate arrangements are dazzling to behold – the melody, glued to the finger-plucked strings, is coupled with a spaced-out, bleak, black drone. There isn’t much light here, nor is there the heat that typically rises off the strings; it’s a cold vision, like that of a cold, deadened leaf left to hang on a winter’s day.
‘Hume’, on the other hand, shifts its attention solely on a drone, with a flash of light fixed on a specific moment in time, the crumbling decay of stone inverting in on itself. ‘Order’, the coda, attaches to itself a thin, pale shadow that slips through a system of thin pipes, sounding out with a thinner drone that’s on the way to the surface. On the horizon, orange, apocalyptic skies light up broken structures, their flames lighting up the sky as if it were a torchlight to the stars. Only remnants remain. -

Other room listening (2012) Download at Bandcamp

Irish composer Karl McGrath employs a unique approach to create beautifully constructed, and keenly observed emotional electro-acoustic pieces. Under his alias Zvuku, Karl has had a handful of releases to date, other room listening is his first full length album. Living just over the Dublin / Co Wicklow border, his home looks out over mountains in the West, these and the surrounding landscape have inspired and informed the dynamics of these pieces.
This sense of place is evident throughout the album, and progressed through his approach, which began with recordings of live instrumentation - guitar, violin and piano - and minimal editing or interference with the resulting sound. By leaving hiss, room noise in the recordings, and 'mistakes' in his playing, each track retains a human element which delivers a presence of emotion for the listener to experience.
Recorded either in one take, or a handful of sessions, processed and edited in the most part through outboard effects. Karl's intention to create an ebb and flow of movement via these contrasting walls of sound and quiet interludes is brilliantly realised, weaving the listener into a captivating journey; at once intimate and expansive. Released in a limited edition of 50 hand numbered CDrs in recycled card sleeves, with cover art insert. -

With all my dejection over stagnation in music in recent years and critiques of nostalgia and retro-mindedness hanging in the air everywhere, it’s nice to be reminded that I can still be thoroughly impressed by somebody’s album-length debut. Enter Zvuku, the project of Irishman Karl McGrath. I’d become familiar with Zvuku’s music through the lovely free SEQUENCE compilations put out by Futuresequence earlier, and the tracks “Woodpile” and “Cold” have featured in our Evening of Light Cloudscapes before. These tracks already stood out greatly from the rest because of their clarity of composition and sound; a simple plucked violin loop, piano-based sound layerings, etc. Two EPs were put out earlier as well, but Other Room Listening is the first full-length album.
The appeal of Zvuku’s sound textures derives in part from the use of such acoustic instruments (piano, guitar, violin) as basic input for the music. Throughout this album, melodies are presented as is, or layered with more or less intense manipulations: reverb, static, loops. This sense of drifting in-and-out of direct audibility is the central feature of the often ghost-like tracks on Other Room Listening, and the title itself indicates part of that experience. Some parts of the music are heard as if somewhere else, in some metaphorical other room.
Opener “Logpile” sounds like an abstracted version of that earlier track, “Woodpile”, redone in the style of this album, with more of an emphasis on rushing waves of sound and ambiences, rather than staccato melodies. The longest track, “Cold Yellow Red Blue” takes this to the extreme, several parts being washed in gorgeous static, like shoegaze without the rock part, but ending at the same time in a clean, fragile piano piece. The rest of the tracks, two of medium length, two short, continue this theme of melancholic melodies and alternations between direct and hazy sound.
At times, Zvuku’s music recalls recent works by Richard Moult or Richard Skelton, in the sense that they too often rely on manipulation of acoustic instruments to generate soundscapes and other extended compositions. I’d have to say that Zvuku’s approach is less repetitive in terms of looping than Skelton’s music, more varied in instruments than Moult’s, though absolutely nothing to the detriment of those artists. What I mean to say is that Zvuku has a very strong musical voice of its own, but one with stylistic parallels in the work of others. That voice of McGrath’s is as convincing here in forty minutes as on his earlier, shorter works, or perhaps even more, and he can be proud of this first album, a masterpiece in the traditional sense: a test of skill that proves a former apprentice has got what it takes.
Essential listening for lovers of ambient and electro-acoustic works. There is a limited edition of 50 copies on CD-R with art print – lovely design by the label – but after that the album will remain available as a digital download.-  by O.S.

My remix of Moon Zero’s Endless Palms from his wonderful Tombs EP on futuresequence.
Buy the remixes here:

My remix of What Follows – Part III from Tiny Leaves’ What we Dream of.. EP on Future Sequence. Buy the EP here or here
Not sure why i’ve only gotten around to putting this up, as the EP was released last year.
This remix is more of a cover version really. I used the chord stucture from Joels original but not any of the stems / recordings.
The remix consists of 4 channels of recordings of an old baby grand piano, pushed thorugh 6 channels of effects.

My submission for sequence6 – downolad here

and just one i made at the same time at the river

The Fourth Futuresequence compliation, SEQUENCE4, has been released. Another amazing, totally free 42 tracks!!
Download it here
i,m lucky enough to have a violin piece on it – northking(part1)

Interview - Zvuku

Interview - Zvuku
A little over a week ago we featured a mix from the enigmatic artist Zvuku. Using the word enigmatic is justified by the fact that there is little or no information on the artist on the net. Have a look, Discogs,, Soundcloud - they all pretty much draw a blank. The only place we found the name behind the moniker was at the Rural Colours website, on which Zvuku released 'Half Full' last year. It's this track that first caught our attention; blending orchestral instrumentation, ambient and drone sensibilities in a way that was both intimate and majestic.
On hearing the artist's forthcoming release 'Midway Slump' on Heat Death Records we were certain we wanted to uncover the identity of Zvuku, and we're very lucky that the artist has been so open for this interview. Zvuku then, is Irish artist Karl McGrath and here's our interview with him.
Hi Karl, can you tell us the story behind how you came to produce the type of music you do? You used to DJ electronica and jungle music didn't you?
In the late 90,s early 00's, I played a radio show on a local pirate station with a friend of mine. It was a Saturday night, midnight to 4am slot, so we got to play whatever we felt like. Electronica, jungle, drum n bass, hip hop, ambient etc. It was where I really learned how to mix and was a great training ground, both of us pushing the other and really trying to mix all styles together. Between then and a couple of years ago I dipped my feet into production and collected lots of equipment - a couple of electronica releases on some small Irish labels but I didn't really start producing in earnest until late in 2009. The lead up to focusing on ambient, classical, drone came from two avenues. The first was the electronica and drum n bass (or dance music) scenes really drifting away from what had first attracted me to them and the second was doing a series of ambient mixes (and a couple of gigs in some huge gallery spaces) focusing on a real freeform mixing methodology. Mixing using tone, poetry, field recordings and focusing in on ambient / noise / classical sources - Eno, Cluster, Terry Riley, John Cage, 70's krautrock, Godspeed, films etc. This led me to really focus in on the current (at the time) "ambient scene", to find more sources for these mixes. I went from not buying any new music to finding a huge amount of music that I really connected with. Then around the end of 2009 a couple of happy coincidences meant that all my equipment I had collected over the years (which where usually in other peoples houses) all got gathered together in one place (my current studio).
Having everything set up in one place (and set up ready to use) was the real catalyst for me starting producing seriously. By the start of 2010 I had finished my first real project - a LP called month. It was much more, sample based, ambient with some classical pieces, but it had pushed me in this direction. Then during March/April of 2010 my brother lent me one of his guitars and I got hooked on the nearly limitless possibilities of what you could get from it.
There is very little information about you as an artist on the internet, is this intentional? And if so, why the mysteriousness?
This is not intentional at all, no mystery. I think the use of a synonym is a hang up from dj'ing. Probably, it's mostly because Zvuku is still really in it's infancy that there is not very much information online, I really only try to maintain my soundcloud at the moment (I've sort of given up on myspace). As for any earlier projects I was involved in, most where dj'ing - is a good place to look. Look for "slug" under weareie mixes (down the side) , there are quite a few mixes up there.
Where does the name 'Zvuku' come from?
It comes from me trying to find a name that would cover a musical project that wasn't based around rhythm or percussion. It's Czech and is taken completely out of context so doesn't really translate well.
Loosely it means "of sound" (and i pronounce it za - voo - coo)
Your music sounds like it could be composed, is that the case or does some of it come about by experimentation and evolution in the production process?
Nearly everything starts composed, usually either written on guitar or piano and then recorded from both and other instruments. I try to set out the basic structure (note structure) and then experiment around that. But it can work both ways. Some pieces start with feedback / a noise and i compose around it's key or it can start with a piano line and all the other instrumentation is written from there. I have tended not to use any samples anymore (other than the recordings of myself playing) - what I really mean is I'm not lifting string or piano lines from other sources. Not that I have any objection to sampling it's just that of late I haven't done any sampling.
Getting from the initial composed piece to a finished track can vary greatly - I try to keep it as free as I can, messing around with the chord progression etc, on the fly. and sometimes entire composed sections get removed as they just don't work in that piece, or they have grown too distant from the original and go on to be pieces of their own.
Are you classically trained in piano, or strings at all?
No training at all. I've read a lot of musical theory but it's all self taught. I've been tinkering with piano's (keyboards) for years, had a guitar for about a year and have just started to teach myself violin. I enjoy the way of the self taught musician, it seems to work for me.
Can you tell us a little about your studio setup, which particular pieces of hardware and software can you not do without?
The single most important piece of equipment I think I have is my mic. It's a decent condenser that I bought on a whim about 6 years ago (wanted to do lots of field recording on a portable DAT I have) and it sat gathering dust for years. It is at the center of everything I do now. From recording my amp, to recording my acoustic (even though it's an electro acoustic I still always record the room sound as well) to recording my violin (which i still need to get a contact mic for). Even when you heavily process the recordings there is some sort of air it gives to a sound, I could not do without it now.
Other than that - laptop - 12 out 10 in soundcard - 24 channel mackie desk (an oldie but a goodie) and numerous pedals (octave, reverbs, delays, loopers - the usual) - I try to keep most of my effects chains analogue now, the mackie has 6 subouts so it great for that. And Abelton Live for sequencing.
Can you tell us a bit about how your Rural Colours release Half Full was produced, and how that differs to your piece 'Midway Slump' due for release on Heat Death Records soon?
"Half Full" started with a piano line and experiments with CopyCat tape delay and pitch shifter pedal that I added violin and cello too. (and some bass from a nord modular)
It was set up like this - 8 channels on the desk (piano, Violin, Cello and nord modular) and 3 effect chains (CopyCat tape delay - noisy!, Space echo, Pitch Shifter) I had groupings of samples / recordings for each section (all composed to fit with each other). Basically I built the track on the fly, using the desk, eq'ing, pushing to effect's and fading while cueing the sequence in live via a Launchpad. I recorded quite a few takes to my DAT. The finished version on Rural Colours was one of these takes, digitally recorded into Sound Forge and eq'ed and mastered in there.
"Mid" and "Slump" (which started off as one track - halfway slump)- the first sample was a bowed gibson explorer (a borrowed guitar, before I got my own) with some space echo added. The violin was built up around this sample and then expanded on for the rest of the piece. Again it was done live on the desk but this time the basic sequence was set up in live. I also added more bowed guitar (tele and takamine acoustic) and plucked acoustic. The effects chains this time was space echo, 2 x reverbs, some octave effects and some MAX patches I wrote interanl in ableton). Slump got moved to a separate track and intermingled with a reprise I had demo'd (added cello and bell recordings). Both where recorded live, directly in Sound Forge.
"Way" was going to be a piano line for a section of "Slump" but ended up being expanded. I recorded the piano through 2 separate reverbs and overdubbed some acoustic over it and then overdubbed the violins as well. The end section was a mixture of the piano line at half time and original tempo. This time the separate recording (all recorded to multichannel wavs in forge) of the piano / guitar / strings and end piano where mixed down in Sound Forge rather than it being a live take.
You uploaded alternative versions to these tracks on Soundcloud, do you work through many versions before you settle on the finished product, how long does each track take to complete?
When I work in the studio I tend to record everything I do and try to mix down a version of whatever I'm working on that day so I end up with lots of different versions of tracks. The last 2 I uploaded - "Hume variation 4" - is the latest version of that piece (which incorporates new violin recordings) and "Half Empty" was a different version of my rural colours release that I re-recorded last week for the future sequence mix, I wanted to have a stripped down version with just the piano and the main string line, as I thought it would fit in nicely with the selection for the mix. Usually the versions I upload to soundcloud are the current versions or alt mixes that I like.
The time taken to finish things can really be very different. Half full took about a month I think, but most of that was making lots of different recordings of it, where as mid and slump from "Midway Slump" where first demo'd as one piece in Sept last year but I didn't return to that until mid jan this year where I rerecorded a lot of the guitar and added lots of plucked and bowed acoustic. Way on the other hand, took about 2 studio sessions from start to finish - about 8 hours I'd say.
What artists or albums would you say are important influences for you, and are there any artists you would like to collaborate with in the future?
Older influences comes from metal, Terry Riley, Steve Reich ,70's krautrock. Cluster, Tangerine Dream and Popol Vuh (the first lp's and the Herzog stuff) had a huge effect on me when I discovered them (as I was quite a latecomer). For more contemporary artists I'd have to say Stars of the Lid, Godpeed/Silver Mt Zion/(and all the other godspeed offshoots), Evyrind kang and the revelation of finding Richard Skelton's music, under all it's guises. The sheer scope, beauty and emotion Richard can portray through his music is astounding.
As for collaborations, I'd be open to working with other artists - there are a lot of up and coming people on Soundcloud with releases on the smaller labels, it could be really interesting to work with some of them.
Do you have any other releases or live shows planned for this year, are you working on anything new?
No other releases or gigs in the pipeline at the moment. I'm working hard on a full length LP (got about half the material started), that i hope to have finished by May, so in the next couple of months I'll see if any label would be willing to put it out. -



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