Julia Kent: Temporal (LP, The Leaf Label, January 2019)

There’s always a danger with music based around looped strings: get it wrong, and it can stray into annoying-busker-outside-shopping-centre territory and there’s no coming back from there. Well, I’m pleased to report that we’re in far more appealing terrain here. Julia Kent is credited with cello, electronics, and sounds. Most of the tracks have the cello front and centre, looped and layered and textured. Occasionally, as say on Conditional Futures, there’s a more ambient electronic feel. There are a few other instruments, seemingly: a piano on Floating City, chimes on Sheared, something that sounds almost music-box-ish on Through The Window (I guess these qualify as “sounds”?). The mood has a blend of lyricism and urgency, in varying proportions. I’m not surprised to discover some soundtrack work on her CV. I don’t think it’s setting out to change the world, but this is a very charming record.

I bought this from Juno. They call it Ambient / Drone.

Colleen: Les Ondes Silencieuses (CD, The Leaf Label, March 2008)

There’s a beautiful simplicity to these pieces. Each features just one or two instruments, including viola da gamba (buffoon that I am, I thought this was a cello before I read the sleeve), acoustic guitar, spinet, and crystal glasses. They are sparsely constructed but unfussily melodic, and Colleen (aka Cécile Schott) clearly has an intimate understanding of her instruments and of the effects of small silences.

I bought this from Boomkat. They call it Home Listening / Modern Classical / Ambience.

Vladislav Delay: Tummaa (CD, Leaf, September 2009)

In which Sasu Ripatti takes techno apart, puts it back together all wrong, and ends up with something weird and a bit wonderful. It’s like someone is doing lego on acid, and instead of a car they have ended up with something weird and spidery and liable to fall apart at any moment, but somehow rather cool. It has technoish beats, and it has echoing dubby clanking noises. But they’re not sequenced conventionally, and they’re certainly not pinned to a linear 4:4 structure. There’s also a lot of live instruments, both percussive and melodic. Most of the tracks top ten minutes, and there is a lot of apparent meandering — but there’s also evidence of very careful manipulation and editing and this ensures that there’s never a dull moment. Maybe it’s actually the techno equivalent of Eric Morecambe’s pianist: all the right beats, but not necessarily in the right order. Intriguing.

I bought this from Boomkat. They categorize it as Basic Channel / Dub Techno, though I’m not sure I agree.