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Stasis Report: Christina Vantzou ✚ H.Takahashi ✚ More

Five new tracks added to the ambient playlist on Spotify and Google Play Music as of September 9, 2018

The latest update to my Stasis Report ambient-music playlist. It started out just on Spotify. As of three weeks ago, it’s also on Google Play Music. The following five tracks were added on Sunday, September 9. All the tracks are fairly new.

✚ “Sky Could Undress” is a remix by Christina Vantzou from Clear Language: Reworked of music originally by Balmorhea (aka Austin, Texas-based Rob Lowe and Michael Muller): balmorhea.bandcamp.com. Vantzou is based in Brussels, Belgium.

✚ “Part 3” is from The Great Lake Swallows by Julia Kent on cello and Jean D.L (“guitarist/tape machine manipulator”), with field recordings by Sandrine Verstraete, on the Gizeh label: gizehrecords.bandcamp.com. Kent is Canadian, and Jean D.L. is Belgian.

✚ “Circulation” from Low Power from H.Takahashi on the White Paddy Mountain label: chiheihatakeyama.bandcamp.com. Takahashi is based in Tokyo, Japan.

✚ “Good Intentions I” from Departures, Vol. 2 by North Atlantic Drift (Mike Abercrimbie, Brad Deschamps), based in Toronto, on the Greek label Sounds in Silence: soundinsilencerecords.bandcamp.com.

✚ “Maish” is from Salted Garden by Mark Rushton, who is based in Iowa City, Iowa: markrushton.bandcamp.com.

Some previous Stasis Report tracks were removed to make room for these, keeping the playlist length to roughly two hours (up from what was originally an hour and a half, when the playlist first launched). Those retired tracks (by Masayoshi Fujita, Forma, Peter Gabriel, Abul Mogard, and Hiroshi Yoshimura) are now in the Stasis Archives playlist (currently only on Spotify).

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The Muffled Classicism of Christina Vantzou

A track off her new album, No. 4

“So, when you play this live, you just have to figure out a way to construct a huge bell jar to put over the entire orchestra except the cello player.” That is how a friend of Christina Vantzou’s described her aesthetic back to her, per Vantzou’s own recollection when I interviewed her a few years ago on the occasion of her third album, Nº3 (Kranky). It’s an apt comparison. There is a restraint, a sense of sounds emanating down a dark hall, music heard through thick fabric, to Vantzou’s recordings, and the approach holds strong on her new album, No. 4, released earlier this month.

This No. 4 track, “Staircases,” exemplifies Vantzou’s approach. Traditional classical elements, heavy on sedate strings and a minimal piano line that descends like the title subject, are heard in a quiet but intense echo, one in which space — whether real or virtual, physical or a matter of post-production — is as much an instrument as the instruments themselves.

Album posted at christinavantzou.bandcamp.com. More from Vantzou at her youtube.com channel and at christinavantzou.com.

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Remixing the Chamber Ambient Music of Christina Vantzou

Steve Hauschildt reworks "Stereoscope"

Christina Vantzou’s first three solo albums of chamber ambient music are numbered, like Led Zeppelin’s before hers. There is Nº1, Nº2, and Nº3, the most recent of which was released late last year. Naturally the collection of remixes is seen as an iteration, not a release unto itself. Its title: 3.5. She’s assembled a great crew to rework the originals, and the first track, Steve Hauschildt’s take on her “Sterepscope,”was posted a few days ago as a promotion. Other participants in 3.5 include Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe (aka Lichens), Loscil, John Also Bennett, Tara Jane O’Neil, the Sight Below, CORIN, and Francesco Donadello. Bennett played all the synthesizers on Nº3, Vantzou told me when I interviewed her last year (“The Bell Jar Filter”). Bennett and Loscil also contributed to the Nº2 Remixes collection, and Loscil was also on the Nº1 Remixes album. If the original “Stereoscope”was quiet and unassuming, with a glitchy undercurrent that suggested rain on a living-room window, then Hauschildt’s rendition is full-on orchestral. (You can stream the original at youtube.com for comparison.)

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/platform. The album will be available as of March 18 at christinavantzou.bandcamp.com. More from Vantzou at christinavantzou.com.

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Dobrawa Czocher x Deutsche Grammophon Project XII

The Polish cellist contributes to the monthly series


The Deutsche Grammophon label, its bright yellow logo long associated with the warhorses of the repertoire, has been exercising its experimental impulses in various ways, like the excellent “Recomposed” reworkings of Bach and Vivaldi by, respectively Peter Gregson and Max Richter, and more recently the Project XII series. Project XII introduces a newly commissioned composition each month for the year, and then collects them into an album at year’s end. It’s run twice thus far, in 2019 (which included a piece by Rachel Grimes, a pivotal early figure in the overlap of indie rock and classical) and 2020 (which included a piece by Christina Vantzou), and we’re now three months into 2021, a highlight of which is “Timelines” by Dobrawa Czocher, the Polish cellist. It’s a gorgeous, sweeping work, slowly flowing layers of cello wafting over each other in a state of classic minimalism repose.

Video originally posted at YouTube.

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A Feast of Collaborations

Mark Fell x Jim O'Rourke, Christina Vantzou x Jasmine Guffond, and many more

Crxssings is the title of a massive new album of collaborations, 34 tracks in all featuring a variety of interactions between pairs of musicians. Many are remixes, while many others appear to be more directly interactive. (Update: These are all remixes. I received a copy of the press release. It’s a very promising collection, nonetheless.) Just check out the lineup:

Shelly Knotts x Jan St. Werner, Ipek Gorgun x Mira Cali, Aaron Dilloway x Lucrecia Dalt, Laura Luna Castillo x Leyland Kirby, France Jobin x Anne Guthrie, Mads Emil Nielsen x Jan Jelinek, Alessandro Bosetti x Yannis Kyriakides, Seth Graham x Yves De Mey, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma x Le Révélateur, Mark Fell x Jim O’Rourke, Christina Vantzou x Jasmine Guffond, Kreng x Celer, Bjarni Gunnarsson x BJ Nilsen, Jerusalem In My Heart x Black To Comm, Klara Lewis x Lawrence English, Gabriel Saloman x Machinefabriek, BEAST (aka Koen Holtkamp) x Chuck Johnson.

What makes the listings especially promising is how the ordering of the participants appears in sets of pairs, suggesting that, for example, where musician A is listed as having been remixed by musician B, a different track flips the relationship, with musician A remixing musician B. What brings all the musicians together is a cause:

All the funds generated by the sales of this album will be donated directly to City Plaza Hotel, a squatted refuge located in the heart of Athens, Greece, organized for and by migrants from Africa and Asia. These funds will support their struggle to provide material needs for those fleeing economic, environmental, political and military disasters in their home countries. At City Plaza Hotel residents work together in ways that center their own agency, dignity and solidarity with each other. One early, pre-release highlight is “Not to Decide is to Decide (Remixture),” a reworking by Jasmine Guffond of unidentified tracks by Christina Vantzou. It’s a gloriously slow-moving mass of heavily textured strings.

Album available at crxssings.bandcamp.com. The release date is July 1. As of today a half dozen tracks are already available.

In the wait for the full release, one thing the collection brings to mind is an early album, dating from 1996, on the Lo Recordings label titled Lo Recordings Vol: 2 Collaborations, featuring such heady combos as Mike Flowers Pops and Funki Porcini, David Toop and Bedouin Ascent, Scanner and David Cunningham, and Lol Coxhill and Paul Schütze. It’s on streaming services, but the listings for Collaborations seem in some cases to not credit both artists. Metadata remains something of a nightmare.

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