Stadiums & Shrines

 

Between classroom Zooms and ambient music memes, Matthew Sage has cultivated multiple solo and collaborative projects since his last dispatch with us. First to surface was cached, an intermedia platform based in Chicago, home to limited-edition sound/print/art objects and semi-regular performance streams — guests so far include Dustin Wong, Forest Management, Lee Noble, and Claire Rousay.

Next came the quartet comprised of Chris Jusell (violin), Chaz Prymek (guitars, field recordings, voice), Patrick Shiroishi (alto saxophone, clarinet, flute, glockenspiel, samples, whistling, voice), and Sage (keyboards, percussion, voice, field recording). Their remote, cross-continental sessions led to Fuubutsushi (風物詩), a collection of hospitable, autumnal ambient jazz songs released last September to an unexpected swell of support. They followed it up earlier this month with Setsubun (節分), a crisp air offering “fresh with possibilities” as they put it, hinting at future editions for spring and summer.


During all this Sage dusted off an older alias, Free Dust, once a depository for daily recordings, now reinvigorated with new material. Released in January on Past Inside the Present, Woo’d Early follows the same constraints of those initial rituals — electric guitar and a few pedals — enacted as gentle morning reflections.

With more slated, Sage pauses for an aqueous turntable set, his seventh of the seventy-nine episodes. He sets it up:

“Just over a year ago I made a mix for S&S called ‘Fireside Reverie’ that was meant to transport listeners out of their stuffy 5k fireside winterized dens, then in the throes of what was an especially cold and sunless spell in midwinter of 2020, into a wooded fairytale dreamland. Escapism was the modus operandi, with the idea that interesting speaker sounds could transport folks out of their cabin fever and into the worlds they missed due to inhospitable weather. Now, looking back, that mix was eerily premature before for a too-long spell spent mostly indoors, mostly isolated, mostly needing escapism. Pre-covid …

In honor of the all-too-marooned sensibilities that we are beyond familiar with now, I am glad to present what may be a sequel to last year’s mix. This one is called ‘Lost at Sea.’ Here is over an hour of ambient washes, jazz dub freak outs, electronic splashes, and high tide lullabies. I am persistently obsessed with Tomita’s Bermuda Triangle and couldn’t help but put another one from that album on here. Also included is a track from the recently deceased Harold Budd. I am very thankful for Budd’s work and his impression on ambient music is indelible.

I think, if there is a message in this bottle as it washes onto your shore, it is that being marooned affords an opportunity to be yourself in a way that being “in the world” does not. This isn’t a ‘self-centered’ idea, but instead more a ‘being centered inside yourself.’ We, of course, need friends, communities, cultures… but I am begrudgingly grateful for this year I have gotten to spend becoming more familiar with myself than I would normally be.”

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Released just as the leaves started to turn, Spencer Zahn’s Sunday Painter record has become a reliably bright drifter for a long winter. Gentle, captivating, the collaborative work seeps and sprawls in the kindest of ways, suggesting a certain level of listening leisure; early mornings before the day catches up, that afternoon glow that hits different on a weekend. Zahn is an accomplished artist — a professional touring musician and multi-instrumentalist session player (on the upright bass here) — whose warmth, modesty, and communal spirit facilitates these intuition-driven sessions with friends: Spencer Ludwig (trumpet), Mauro Refosco (percussion), Kenny Wollesen (drums), Andy Highmore (piano/Rhodes/organ), Jacob Bergson (piano/Rhodes), Mike McGarril (soprano saxophone), and Dave Harrington (guitar/electronics). The set feels alive, brimming with a mix of jazzy interplay, ambient softness, and an understated neo-classical command.

Knowing Spencer as the tasteful world-builder that he is, we tapped him for a takeover. His episode links the likes of Chet Baker, Kate Bush, The Durutti Column, and Yasuaki Shimizu’s cult-favorite Mariah group under the study of spatial recording dynamics (with the title nodding to Sun Ra). He explains:

“I have always been fascinated with the way that people record their music. How each song becomes a unique documentation of the artist, their musicality, and the space in which they record. When I was growing up, things like reverb and hearing a room in a recording amazed me; it still does. From the opening track by Hiroshi Yoshimura who creates air around each synthesized note to the live club atmosphere of the Ahmad Jamal Trio playing in a lounge in 1958 while microphones simultaneously record the band and audience casually having a night out, each song on this playlist has an immediate feeling of space.”


Sunday Painter is out now on Cascine. Zahn also has a new 7” bundle highlighting sessions with Austin Tufts (Braids), and Jacob Bergson available through Pique-nique Recordings.

 

Resident Dev Sherlock tells us he’s been putting tracks aside every so often with this return set in mind, his first transmission in nearly two years. The resulting 80-minute drift threads various styles and eras in service of high-altitude mood. We begin with the ’60s radiophonics-inspired work of Throbbing Gristle founder Chris Carter, then enter an Ethiopian orthodox hymn (and recent guest-mix motif) from Sosena Gebre Eyesus. Next, we pan over a high resolution sunrise from London’s Yamaneko, into Christophe Chassol’s birdsong-filled ulstrascore and the improvisational healing tones of Chicago’s Natalie Chami aka TALsounds. Makoto Matsushita’s “September Rain” and plenty more October language follow, cutting a trail across the sky.



Chris Carter – Cernubicua
Roedelius – Wahre Liebe
Sosena Gebre Eyesus – ድንግል ባንቺ አፍሬ – Dengil Banchi Aferie
Yamaneko – Oslo House Sunrise 4K
Chassol – Birds, Pt. I
Arve Henriksen – Bird’s-Eye-View
Fools – Aeg Old
Truly Holy – Always Wanna Go
TALsounds – Muted Decision
eventual infinity – purity (good night)
Makoto Matsushita – September Rain (Japanese Version)
Orlando – Free 2 B Whoever
stillefelt – Half Life
Raaja Bones – Lightlids
vcr-classique – ecco transmission (excerpt)
Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac – Albatross
Hesitation – Etruscan Rooking
Laura Allan – Passage
Rejoicer – Neo Drive Knows You
Leon Thomas – The Creator Has A Master Plan (Peace)

 

Sui Zhen sent us this mix last month; we have migrated inside since then, and are finding ways to exist, to create, to adapt and hopefully thrive within limited and uncertain formats. May this mix offer a spacious place to lean into.

Sui Zhen is a musician and performance artist based in Melbourne. Her latest album, Losing, Linda (released last fall on Cascine), examines the disembodiment of digital life and internalizes loss across a series of surreal and highly inventive experimental pop songs. Zhen has a knack for arranging myriad musical ideas into singular moments while never losing hold of the rhythm. Like the way flute & clarinet mingle with bossa-nova bass lines on “Being A Woman,” emphasizing her candid questions about gender expectations, which toggle between melodic phrases, self-harmonies, and robotic sing-speak.

Behind the AI alter-ego preface of Losing, Linda, it is deeply human. As is the message of this mix, presented in her words below. She also penned a piece today on resetting expectations in the age of isolation.

“Over the last couple of years my listening tastes have moved toward more textural, expansive, contemplative soundscapes that could accompany me whilst I am thinking & reflecting about all manner of things at home. Or whilst I am preparing my studio space. Trying to quiet the mind. This could be because I’ve been creating soundscapes and music for listening in art galleries for work in this time period. But I think it also has to do with the rise of internet radio and mix series reaching a point where there is so much choice. Mixes can be life-changing or just a really positive way to collect musical ideas and references into an hour-long listening experience. Ambient is not the right word, but there is a sparseness and fragmentation to a lot of the pieces here in this mix. I love to try and continue a thread and draw links between other artists working with similar sounds or techniques. For me, this kind of music is highly evocative and good for the soul. It doesn’t always sound familiar and you might not know where it is leading you, but it can open the mind and be a cleanse of sorts to all the noise elsewhere in the world. I am always so impressed and in awe of the power of sound and music. What a privilege to have my hearing and to be able to participate in this way.”



FM3 & Dou Wei – 四
Meredith Monk – clusters 2
Félicia Atkinson – The Flower And The Vessel
FM3 & Dou Wei – Fallen Flowers 落花
Sam Mallet – Wetlands
Log(M) & Laraaji – Sundog Suite
Ana Roxanne – Slowness
Meredith Monk – strand (gathering)
Sosena Gebre Eyesus – 03 ባየነውም ጊዜ – Bayenewem Gize
FM3 & Dou Wei – 八
Brenda Ray & Scientist – Rejoice For The New Born
Hydroplanes – Grand Central
Pontiac Streator & Ulla Straus – Chat Two
Primal Astrology – Primal Astrology
Log(M) & Laraaji – Sruthi Dub Resonance
Pete Namlook & Bill Laswell – From The Earth To The Ceiling (Part 07)
Sheila Chandra – Not a Word in the Sky
SQÜRL – Blue and Grey
A Gethsémani – Cheree

S&S Radio broadcasts every now and then on Newtown Radio.