|orchestramaxfieldparrish presents ÆRA|
To The Last Man / Index Of Dreaming 2 x CD (fs8&9)
Faith Strange Recordings has just issued it's first double cd as of January, 2009. This is a new electronic excursion filling two full cds of recordings from orchestramaxfieldparrish and issued under the project name of orchestramaxfieldparrish presents ÆRA.
A beautifully detailed and rich sonic palette exploring the fleeting aspects of memory and dreams. These recordings manage to strike an artistic balance between adventurousness and a neo-classical sensibility, combined with a keen perception of aural sculpture. In a genre that brims with derivations, To The Last Man / Index Of Dreaming is something way ahead of the curve.
Issued in a limited edition 2xCD package in a Japanese style double mini lp gatefold sleeve. Two hours of wide open vistas and introspective private rooms.
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Disc One (To The Last Man):
1) Elegæa - 5.52
2) To Touch The Sky - 16.04
3) Ennoæ - 9.38
4) Towards The Region Of Light - 5.24
5) Endæmonum - 3.10
6) Out Of Many, One - 10.20
7) Ecquænam - 3.04
Disc Two (Index Of Dreaming):
1 - 1/1 - 7.20
2 - 2/1 - 11.42
3 - 1/2 - 9.02
4 - 2/2 - 7.56
5 - 1/3 - 27.30
ÆRA - Pæan No. 1 - The Paradise Syndrome
...I have found paradise, Surely no man has ever attained such happiness. Here, there is much time for everything. Each time your arms hold me it's as joyous as the first. Each kiss is as the first... (fs10)
(Second edition )
Taken together as a trio, these three recordings provide a partial glimpse back, amongst other things, to the glory days of Bowie / Eno in Berlin (
by the wall
), Cluster and Conny Plank thrown in for good measure with an arcane eye onwards and upwards toward Penderecki & Pärt. A rare bargain for the Neo-Recession / Neo-Depression, these new releases can be ordered together at a special rate.
from Incubator / Petri Supply:
There's much to hear on these CDs. Having the bonus CDr edition will extend your listening time by another half hour. orchestramaxfieldparrish does have an orchestral sound, except that it's really more of an electronic totality with the volume and complex timbre that an orchestra can have. But essentially, smaller signals are the controlling nexus for powerfully large sounds. A body of pitched deepness moves against waves of contrasting tones, only to gradually transform itself as a cloud might. The compositional effect seems like an impressionist's take on the dynamics of many moving forms like exist in street traffic. If the subtle movements and rates and sounds of the city are sublimed into their electronic essences and allowed to float, then you'll approach what some of the sound-play is like here. There's a respect for concrete dynamics that imbues the stability and subtlety of real events into electronic form. The more abstract material occurs on Index Of Dreaming, including synthesizing that magically evokes an Alan Parsons' feel in one case. The many explorations range from long percussive transcendental music to sweeping concrete mixes of microsounds and electronics. These discs when played consecutively, can create a substantial listening atmosphere.
A new approach (or at least moniker) for orchestramaxfieldparrish's Mike Fazio, this album presents two separate discs, each individually named, for a double dose of dark and moody ambience as rendered by Fazio's nearly neo-classical approach. Long though it may be, there is enough depth to the material here that suggests numerous listens, yet it is also bare enough that it is just as suitable as background accompaniment, albeit to a consistently grim undertaking.
The first disc, To the Last Man, features a lengthy presentation of seven pieces each exploring a similarly shaded demeanor materializing and decomposing tonal matter. The shimmering bell-like resonances of "To Touch the Sky" writhe uncomfortably above the dark underpinnings of drone that situate themselves amongst an almost Gothic sonic backdrop infested by gargoyles and ghosts alike. It is a strange, unnerving approach that manages to paint new material with old techniques.
The filmic quality of much of this material is undeniable considering the strength of its spare and evocative mood setting. With delicate placement, each piece here finds new corners and awkward, creeping modes of the same general tone. As the previously mentioned track slips into "Ennoæ," a distant hand drum rhythm brings new color to the bleakness, adding an echoing force behind the thick swabs of blackness being worked with. When a series of pipes come in, the work begins to resemble a mini percussion orchestra, riding atop some steady drone that bobs up and down in untended black waters.
Fazio's greatest abilities lie in his decisions, as each work displays many that point toward a general caution executed in the creation of his pieces. Never one to overindulge himself, Fazio's textures and patterns service the tune far more than any egotistical self-journey. There is a meditative, almost minimalist effect to many of these, as the carefully produced sounds bounce in and out of the mix with trance-inducing effect.
Yet Fazio's signature sound seems to stem far more from Arvo Part than Reich or Glass, while also interweaving an almost proggy sense of the dramatic. "Ecquænam" may be short, but it has enough dramatic flourishes to make it an ample close to the first disc. "1/1" opens the next disc in a seeming homage to Eno's Music for Airports, a connection made stronger by the title of the disc and its close approximation to Eno's collaborative effort with Robert Fripp on "An Index of Metals." If greater convincing is required, then it can be found in the ambient structures constructed throughout, as the aforementioned proggy elements are brought to the fore and coaxed into writhing electronic sculptures that bend and sway against the skies.
The two discs represent a fine and strongly crafted construction that, though quite a lot for one listen, serves its listener well over the course of numerous re-dippings into the cold waters. That these are as beautiful as they are only makes the darkness more alluring, as the closing "1/3" certainly displays. Almost a half-hour long, the piece builds slowly through static mine fields and church bells. It may be intimidating, and it may long, but the allure of such a mystique can't be denied. - Henry Smith
"To the Last Man / Index of Dreaming" is the debut 2CD release from Mike Fazio - the man behind Orchestramaxfieldparrish - in the guise of ÆRA. Packaged in a mini-gatefold sleeve, the first 50 copies also come with a bonus three-inch CD with the track "Pæan No.1 - Paradise Syndrome", exclusive to this disc. Themed around memories and dreams respectively, the two discs pick up on themes from Fazio's Orchestramaxfieldparrish neo-classical ambient project, with an emphasis on the droning, textural electronic elements of his music.
Released under the name orchestramaxfieldparrish presents ÆRA, this album is very much more electronic than the "The Silent Breath of Emptiness" and focuses more on the synthetic side of Fazio's music. Probably best considered as two single musical pieces split into convenient sections, "To the Last Man" is a meditative, ambient musical journey that is both tranquil and possesses an air of weightlessly floating deep in space, whilst at the same time has a subtler hint of something more sinister coming in and out of earshot as if lurking just out of sight. Added to this and present throughout is the miniscule chatter of digital insects busily running around nearby. As the sound builds, rolls and drifts around the soundscape, occasional bursts of urgent sound heighten the mood and increase anxiety levels to indicate everything might not be as it seems. Adding a different kind of urgency to "Ennoae" are the mechanical qualities of traditional drum sounds that bring a lighter, manual, rhythmic mood to the music. Switching between drifting ambience and dark edgy atmospheric drones, "To the Last Man" covers a range of moods and emotions. Particularly ominous and edgy is "Endaemonum", with its low droning background, eerie, almost choral, quality and creeping orchestral tones. Elsewhere the music undulates and radiates in a gentler soothing manner, but not without short dark interludes. Sometimes quite grand - "Out of Many, One" for example - Fazio's ability to create wide spacious neo-classical soundscapes lends itself well to the feeling of floating deep in space, not quite knowing what is actually lurking out there.
Of the two discs, "Index of Dreaming" is the more radiant and ethereal-sounding. Maintaining that same spacious drifting-in-space feeling as "To the Last Man", "Index of Dreaming" is more tranquil and calmer, floating along languidly with its opening track "1/1". Flooding the senses with bright, shining, sparkly cascades of glittering ambient sound, the twelve-minute "2/1" is wonderfully serene, yet conceals a darker side deep in the flowing layers of drifting sound. It is not until the closing minutes of the track that this darker side starts to show through, coming to the forefront with dark rumbling drones. Fazio's work is interesting; it contains wonderfully serene textual ambience whilst at the same time exhibiting deep ominous drones and darker atmospheres that come in and out of earshot, subtly lurking in the shadows and only appearing from time to time. "1/2", for example, contains male choral harmonies mixed with both dark distorted tones and atmospheres in a sort of dark ambient take on a classic horror movie soundtrack. The theme continues, but builds slightly in intensity and sinister intent, this time focussing on more feminine voices. The subtleties are there; slight changes in tone, volume and distortion all contribute to the overall mood and feeling of the tracks on the second disc.
Fitting the themes of memories and dreams very well, the first disc is the more varied, perhaps indicating the mixed emotions that can be associated with memories of various types. The second disc is calmer, which fits with the image of deep sleep and the tranquil state that induces dreaming. Whilst predominantly ambient, both discs exhibit short spells of more immediacy and anxiety, appropriate for the differing moods and emotions that can be associated with memories or dreams alike. - Paul Lloyd
orchestramaxfieldparrish presents ÆRA :: To The Last Man/Index Of Dreaming (Faith Strange)
"...A double-set from what seems an even more hermetic vehicle than OMP, this ÆRA is one of stern synthetic driftscapes, with sounds mainly seeking upper spheres - of the ær rather than the earth..."
Alan Lockett, Contributing Editor
Mike Fazio conceived of ÆRA as a personal take on symphonic music merged with the art and the literary worlds. The art/literary element can be seen minimally in arcane presentational trappings, but it's musical matter that matters here. A subtle Eastern European dark-night-of-the-soul undercurrent runs through ÆRA; under influence of late-modernist composers - Górecki (check), Pärt (check), Penderecki (check), Kancheli (check) - the prevailing ambient drone of Fazio's guitar manipulations, familiar from outings under the cloak of orchestramaxfieldparrish, gets a headier, more mysterious, flavour. The 'X presents Y' billing is comparable to the Coil presents... projects: where musical expression emerges in a slightly different voice from an artist's customary articulation, yet is recognisably of the same blood. So ÆRA bespeaks another place while vibrating with a resonance recognisable from Fazio's 'parrish. A double-set from what seems an even more hermetic vehicle than OMP, this ÆRA is one of stern synthetic driftscapes, with sounds mainly seeking upper spheres - of the ær rather than the earth. Long wisps and swathes of tonefloat are drawn out languorously arcing over tracts alternately teeming and evacuated, finely flowing from a sonic palette deployed for exploration of memory and dreams, of ritual and forgotten memories, scenes found not deleted - recovered from the There and Then of a Future-past hybrid projection.
So, artfully navigating the interstices between experimental ambient and a distillate of neo-classical, Disc 1, To The Last Man, tends to the melodramatic and dense, while Index Of Dreaming to the oneiromantic and spatial. "Elegæa" initiates the ritual, wispy atmospherics laced with orchestral infusions setting in train a multi-hued journey attended by dark portent. "To Touch The Sky" bristles with micro-chatter and campanology, tone-whorls over dark drone and post-Gothic colourings. "Ennoæ" injects percussive patterns into the synthetic base, vague echoes of Steve Roach emerging. At other points Fazio displays affiliations with other iconic ambient/space/drone artists. On "Out Of Many, One" synth sonorities suggest '70s Kosmische - Klaus Schulze, vintage TD. Disc 1 spans organic environmental to outer space cosmicity, taking in various stops on the La Monte Young-Phil Niblock-Fripp/Eno-Robert Rich line. Where the first CD is questing and restless in experiment, the second is more restrained and stay-at-home. On the second, "1/1" opens in titular hommage to Music for Airports (note similar parallels in the disc's nomenclature, Index Of Dreaming - cf. Eno/Fripp's "An Index of Metals"). The extended "1/3" grows to epic proportions through fields of static and chimes - a lulling paean of heady post-industrial vapours, swells and billows. This ÆRA bestrides musical eras effortlessly and engrossingly.
wonderful wooden reasons
The last time I had the distinct pleasure of hearing a Faith Strange release it was the sublime ‘Silent Breath of Emptiness’ by the rather unwieldly named orchestramaxfieldparrish. Now a year later the name has grown with the addition of ‘presents AERA’. It’s a mouthful and a half isn’t it. In order to work around this I’m going to refer to orchestramaxfieldparrish presents AERA by his given name of Mike Fazio - it’s much easier to type.
The two halves of this album are individually named possibly as an indication of content or possibly as a thematic device for Mike’s overarching driving concept. Either way they encompass a sumptuous and engrossing set of ambient music. Utilising, slow snowfalls of drones, showers of micro-tones and (if you’re lucky enough to grab the limited edition with the extra third disc) some well chosen field recordings Mike has created a set that fills a room with a cushion of sound.
It’s difficult to give you a straight and easy description of the music. It is, by turn, the purest of ambient - like Eno at his best - before morphing into the most uncomfortable of atmospheres - dripping with discomfort and trepidation. His music is as slow and stark as the winter months and as lush and vibrant as the summer ones. Always recommended. - April 2009
orchestramaxfieldparrish is, for want of a better description, an ambient project, encompassing everything that that much overused “A” word brings with it. However, this beautifully presented double CD comes with a Faith Strange quality guarantee, and over two hours, the listener is treated to OMP’s now trademark deep soundscaping. OMP’s founder and central composer, Mike Fazio finds strength in uniting bold themes with his grandiose, sombre arrangements, and the press release explains that the “Ae” diphthong of the title, translates to a dual tonality, a kind of linguistic trip of the tongue where one tone skips to another. The album’s expansive, dreamy atmosphere is immediately captivating, and the tracks segue into each other in a seamless montage of prolonged tonal tracts, wispy atmospherics, and grand orchestrations, reminiscent to me of early Tangerine Dream pieces, particularly Phaedra, which coincidentally utilises the “ae” dipthong in its title.
The accompanying CD, Index of Dreaming dispenses with titles and nomenclature, and simply numbers each piece, presumably as some kind of personal cataloguing, or reference points that we as listeners are not yet privy to, or have to decipher as each tract unfolds. Indeed the slightly cryptic use of Viking Eggeling’s pictorial series, “Diagonale Symphonie”, in the internal sleeve adds to the air of enigma shrouding this release, and I am left pondering this audio-visual conundrum as I listen to the washy, tidal strains emitting from my sound system.
Aera is an impressive foray, and is perhaps something of a defining moment for Fazio’s project thus far..tempting us to investigate further. Aera is effortlessly immersive, and I can think of few other ways in which to absorb my senses for two hours..listened to consecutively, Fazio’s hand is more than capable. An epic release. - BGN
To The Last Man / Index Of Dreaming
was reviewed previously, this latest iteration expands upon the original's two discs with a third that's equally deserving of mention and justifies revisiting the release. In its entirety, the work registers as a remarkable accomplishment by astral traveler Mike Fazio—aka ÆRA, orchestramaxfieldparrish, and Gods Of Electricity member—and one that can't help but seem like a definitive artistic statement. The recordings present heavily synthetic landscapes that more naturally reside in the upper spheres than on earth. Infinitely long trails of electrical tones—largely guitar-generated—stretch over immense expanses like shooting stars captured in slow-motion, and notes shift and bend as they arc across the heavens .
It's hard not to think of “A screaming comes across the sky, ” the infamous opening phrase of Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow, the moment
To The Last Man's
“Elegæa” appears. Dark storm clouds seem to roll across the horizon when the composition's deep, steely tones flare like a synthetic swarm. The sixteen-minute “To Touch The Sky” follows, with micro-noise sputter, suggestive of the rapid chatter of insects or squirrels, punctuating the piece's flowing tendrils of simmering sound. “Ennoæ” introduces a pronounced physical dimension by layering panning percussive patterns prominently atop the synthetic base, with hand drums and anvil-like punctuations lending the piece a naturalistic character. During the ten-minute meditation “Out Of Many, One,” grandiose washes woozily rise and fall, and the droning tones burn fiercely, at one time increasing in volume to an ear-shattering degree before exploding into a cluster of stars. A peaceful synthesizer sonority dominates during the final minutes, strengthening the music's connection to the space-rock tradition associated with outfits such as Tangerine Dream.
Index Of Dreaming
eschews conventional track titles for numbers (e.g., “1/1,” “2/2”) but sonically the ÆRA style carries over from one disc to the other, with “1/1” even seeming to pick up from where To The Last Man's epic closer “Ecquænam” leaves off. If anything Index Of Dreaming may be the “purer” of the two halves, as Fazio reduces the second disc's meditations and drones to their essence by largely banishing natural sounds (exceptions being “1/2” and “2/2” where celestial choir exhalations accompany the tracks' sweeping tones). The recording's subterranean drones and sparkling prisms reach an epic culmination in “1/3,” a super-terrestrial exploration where slow-burning waves billow, ripple, rise, and fall for twenty-eight hypnotic minutes.
The third disc,
Pæan No. 1 - The Paradise Syndrome
(a limited-edition included with the first fifty copies of To The Last Man / Index Of Dreaming), was recorded in one take on Dec. 27th, 2008. In keeping with the title (completed by the accompanying “
…I have found paradise / Surely no man has ever attained such happiness / Here there is much time for everything / Each time your arms hold me it's as joyous as the first / Each kiss is as the first…
”), the thirty-two-minute, two-part piece is in its opening moments even more ethereal than the material on the companion discs. Fazio revisits earlier guitar-generated themes and elaborates on them by adding organ and field recordings (a rain storm and bird collage recorded in New Mexico and Nevada about fifteen years ago). If the first discs suggest travels through the upper galaxies, the third depicts a heavenly garden of glistening tones and choral voices. Thunder cracks, bird chirps, and rainfall gradually emerge too, lending the material an earthy vitality that's unique to the third disc (the disc's second track is a four-minute coda that features field sounds only.)
To The Last Man / Index Of Dreaming
exemplifies Fazio's long-standing and uncompromising commitment to the progressive music tradition, electronic or otherwise, and is an essential release for admirers of the orchestramaxfieldparrish set
The Silent Breath Of Emptiness
which is sonically kin to the new material, regardless of moniker difference. It also will be interesting to see what Fazio does next to follow up such a definitive statement. - March 2009