I was happy to find this tape by accident upon my first look at Sangoplasmo Records’ (very nice label based in Poland) website. This was Sangoplasmo’s first release, from 2011. I very much enjoy Aranos’ collaboration with Nurse With Wound, Acts of Senseless Beauty, and I’ve been curious for years to hear some of his solo recordings. I’m glad this was the first. It didn’t disappoint.
“Aranos (pronounced aranyosh) was born in Bohemia (now a part of Czech Republic). He has performed as a singer and instrumentalist since the age of 8 in folk ensembles, jazz bands, rock groups, gypsy bands, ceilidh bands and as a solo artist. Written and composed in various styles from classical music to rock. He sings and plays violin, viola, cello, bass, guitar, mandolin, piano, keyboards, banjo, Chinese and Japanese flutes, santoor, drums, percussion, etc and has had collaborated with Steven Stapleton on two Nurse With Wound records, “Santoor Lena Bicycle” and “Acts of Senseless Beauty.” He currently lives and works in the west of Ireland.”
From a pretty short visit to his website I found that he has a good number of things (many are gorgeous or otherwise intimate hand made packages) available for purchase directly from him, including this present item we’re taking a look at. Over the next week or two I’m going to be digging around there watching videos & reading things. Plenty to see & listen to: http://www.aranos.org/aranos/aranos_home.html
I found this short bit he wrote on paying for (his) music to be on target: http://www.aranos.org/aranos/Blog/Entries/2011/10/12.html
A formidable artist & musician. Such artists deserve support at fair compensation for the thought provoking, evocative, and highly stimulating work they do.
Onward to the tape >
The first side, a 31.5 minute (lengths kindly provided by on-cassette labeling) piece called “Overborne Continents”, begins with some hesitant wooden percussive sounds, and what sounds like a stand-up bass, similarly hesitating to take full initiative to set things into motion. A minute or two passes by which gave me the feeling at first that maybe I was in for a jazz trio sort of thing. I knew Aranos used a violin, and the stand-up bass sound added to that knowledge pushed my imagination in the direction of this idea. He was embarking on an improvisational jazz piece, I thought. Over the next minute or two, a rain stick is added to the incidental sounds, which are all occasionally tapping in the random tempo of a wind chime barely shifting in a weak breeze. After a couple more minutes a strange, eerie backdrop of tonality is added in which ties everything together with an atmosphere that fits well with the title of the cassette, or at least the snow and ice part. Things are frozen in motion or moving slowly. The tonal backdrop is occasionally augmented by a couple of santoor strings touched gently. The note played on the stringed instrument is strangely discordant and enhances the eerieness. Cold isolated feelings are held in suspended animation using these instruments and the open spaces between them. He did not embark on an improvisational jazz piece. He did something much more enchanting and cool.
Side B’s “Therefore Autumn Therefore”
This piece is very much in the same territory as “Overborne Continets”. Beginning with a skipping record, emphasizing and focusing on the skip-blip. Quiet and strange, repeating and clustering over itself. This builds and wind chimes are added. This clustering of clicks, small obscure tones and ringing wind chimes builds but the atmosphere is still of lonely, cold, wide open arctic scape. Rumbling accumulates, and after some time this all abruptly drops dead into silence. From out of the nothing comes a strange screeching, somewhere between a record needle scratch and a baloon being rubbed. This transitions into the next absorbing atmosphere. Earthy wind instrument? tones are held steady. Here and there is pensive thumping of a small percussive device that reminds me of a jaw harp. High pitched tones, generated perhaps from a turntable being hand driven to play some record with tones at variable speeds, go up up and down a bit and up again, swooping around the upper end of the sound field. This comes and goes. There’s always space left for the elements to breathe. Delayed santoor arrives after some time, thickening the mood effectively. After some time, deep bovine-sounding creaks come at natural rhythms (at the rate of insects or cows calling) from a pair of bowed string instruments.
I was thinking that this could be called ‘electroacoustic’ music, but then realized that this is more of an acoustic-acoustic music, in that all of the sounds are of acoustic instruments, except for a sideways interlude of a violin and organ ditty (might be informed by the Nurse With Wound playbook…or just a whimsical streak of sentimental mischief…?) from what seems to be a record (might be a piece by Aranos) being played on side B. Here is where the mention of cabbage makes sense to me. There’s a taste for the odd, but it’s subtle and not over emphasized. It’s simultaneously sad, nostalgic and comical they way it comes off to me. I can see cabbage with legs dancing on ice during this interjection. Some of the sounds are possibly sampled, too. Electro-acoustic or not…maybe a couple of people somewhere care but I don’t. This is a very beautiful and emotionally complex recording; expertly arranged and conceived. Strenuously recommended, but unavailable @ Sangoplasmo, so get it directly from the best source possible – the artist himself!
Order this tape/cdr directly from Aranos:
Thanks to Ketel for pointing out my mistaken year of release for this, which made me take a second look at what I had written. I’ve corrected a few incorrect pronouns and added some information about Aranos, which I stupidly did not include the first time around a couple days ago. I’ll be continuing to aim for improvement and thoroughness, and interaction with discerning people is much enjoyed and appreciated. I’m only trying here to help & learn.