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cd-r, limited edition of 100
Cover image is a medieval miniature painting taken from Geoffroy Tory's Book of Hours (Touraine, 1533).
Picture on backcover is from the title page of Bill Nye's History of England (J.B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia, 1900).
Last.fm label site with three full songs
Prices (including postage):
4 € in Finland and EU
5 $ in elsewhere
to "Order" page
A compilation of sound inspired by classic literature. The artists are responsible of defining "sound" and "classic".
Musically compilation lies everywhere between minimalism, ambient, free folk and prog electronica.
"Tämän Luovajan julkaiseman kokoelman ideana on, että kukin artisteista on käyttänyt kirjallista lähdettä teoksensa pohjana. Osassa kyse on inspiraatiosta, jolloin materiaalia ei tunnista, osassa käytetään tekstiä aivan suoraan. Kiekon avaa Brent Mini & Eric Lampton raidalla, jossa pienet vesipisaran kaltaiset piippaukset "tippuvat" hiljaisuudessa, ja lopussa on puhesyntetisaattorin oloisesti lausuttuna pätkä tekstiä. Se ei toimi kunnolla missään vaiheessa ja jää täysin tylsäksi. Iamheardin Hongistola puolestaan on pianoa, myrskyä ja taustarätinää, ja tavoittaa hyvin sen Sillanpääläisen tunnelma jota ollaan hakemassa. Samoin onnistuu Santtu Hirvikorpi Komakon hitaan kitaran kanssa. Sitten siirrytäänkin hankalammalle alueelle: Palvelun Maldororin lauluista otettu kappale on muka-herkkää epävireistä metsäfolk-laulua halvan rumpukonesoundin ja muutaman soinnun päällä, onnistuen pilaamaan upean alkuteoksensa oikeasti herkän tunnelman aivan täydellisesti.
Perässä seuraava Haute Cuisinen Un Saison en Enfer on onneksi täysin eri maata: kuoron oloisella aallolla viimeisteltyä noiseambientia, joka asettuu Rimbaudin tunnelmiin oikein hyvin, vaikka kyseessä onkin teos josta ei sen lähdettä tunnistaisi, mikäli asiaa ei olisi painettu kansilehtiin. Robert Hortonin Maija Poppanen -raita puolestaan toimii kappaleena varsin mainiosti, mutta ainakin minun päässäni kohdehahmo assosioituu paljon tätä varsin minimalistista maisemointia railakkaampaan menoon. Vellamon Mirdja palaa jälleen akustisemmalle linjalle, ja muistuttaa minua hyvin siitä miksi en pidä metsäfolkista lainkaan: vaisua laulua ja lausuntaa velton kitaran päällä. Siis kaikki neofolkin huonot puolet ilman sitä esityksellistä vahvuutta joka pitää kyseisen genren voimallisena. (Tosin jos artistin ideana onkin tässä ollut tehdä hyvästä lyriikasta täysin ponnetonta, hän on onnistunut tavoitteessaan erinomaisesti.) Alligator Crystal Moth on tehnyt häröisän, hitaan mutta lopussa revittelevän jazzin oloisen tulkinnan Thoreausta, joka ei ehkä juuri muistuta Waldenia mutta on silti ihan kivaa kuultavaa. Sitä seuraa levyn varsinainen helmi, Hydor Kephalen 10-minuuttinen noiseambientia ja hidastettua jouluevankeliumia käyttävä Gothic Knife Rule. Siinä harras tunnelma on saatu sekä säilytettyä että hajotettua samanaikaisesti, niin että hitaaksi vääristetty, erittäin kauniisti rytmitetty puhe on yhtä aikaa täysin vakava ja silti hukan huvittavan oloinen. Lopuksi soi Marko Marinin kosketinteos Virtahevon kuolema joka ei alleviivaavalla mahtipontisuudellaan ehkä nouse kiekon merkittävimpien raitojen joukkoon, mutta tekee juuri sopivaa kunniaa Tommy Hellstenin kirjalle.
Reading Sounds ei täysin toimi kokonaisuutena, eikä kaikista sen kappaleista saa ideaa kunnolla irti edes tietäessään mistä on kyse, mutta sen parhaat hetket ovat huomattavan onnistuneita." (Jiituomas / Kuolleen musiikin yhdistys)
"The idea behind this Luovaja label compilation is that each of the artists has used a literary source as the basis of their project. In some tracks it's been just as inspiration, and is thus unrecognizable, others make direct use of the text. The album opens with a Brent Mini & Eric Lampton track, in which small waterdrop-like beeps "drip" in silence, and which at the end has some speech synth like spoken text. It does not function at any point and remains purely boring. Iamheard's Hongostola is piano, storm and background buzz, well reaching the feel of F. E. Sillanpää being sought. Santtu Hirvikorpi's slow guitar in Komako is a similar success. Then it's a turn towards a more difficult area: Palvelu's piece out of Les Chants de Maldoror is fake-sensitive out-of-tone forest-folk singing on top of cheap drum machine sounds and a few cords, utterly ruining the tender mood of the wonderful original. Luckily the following track, Un Saison en Enfer by Haute Cuisine is of completely different quality: noiseambient refined with a choir-like wave, fitting highly well with Rimbaud - even though one would not recognize the influence if it wasn't printed in the sleeve. Robert Horton's interpretation of Mary Poppins works nicely as a track, but I must say that I'd associate her with more energetic tones than the minimalist soundscaping presented here. Vellamo's Mirdja is a return towards acoustic songs and a reminder on why I do not like the Finnish "forest folk" at all: weak singing and speech over a lame guitar. It contains all the bad traits of neofolk without any trace of the interpretative strength which keeps that genre so vivid. (What must be noted, though, is that if the artist's actual intent really was to turn a great lyric into an insignificant one, this is a brilliant success.) Alligator Crystal Moth has created a distorted, slow but near the end loosening and jazz-like interpretation of Thoreau, which may not resemble Walden much, but is still an enjoyable listen. Next is the album's real gem, Gothic Knife Rule by Hydor Kephale, a combination of noise ambient and a slowed down reading of the nativity scene in the Gospel of Luke. On it the sacral mood has been both preserved and broken down, so that the distorted, wonderfully paced speech as simultaneously utterly serious and still slightly amusing. The album ends with Marko Marin's keyboard piece Virtahevon kuolema, which doesn't in it's blatant pompousness really reach the level of the better tracks on this record, but does pay excellent homage to Tommy Hellsten's book.
Reading Sounds does not really function as a whole, and not all of its tracks carry the idea well enough even when the listener knows what they are about, yet its best moments are highly successful indeed." (Jiituomas / Kuolleen musiikin yhdistys)
"Reading Sounds on Luovaja is an interesting concept compilation inspired by classic literature. Lots of lesser-known Finnish ensembles give way to more familiar underground bands such as Alligator Crystal Moth and Robert Horton. Favorite tracks include Santtu Hirvikorpi’s “Komako” which sounds like snow-clad pine forest turned into sounds and the rainy, primitive bedroom folk of iamheard." (Mats / Broken Face)
"Prior to mikael sending this disc to me, i hadn't heard of his finland-based label. his mentioning of a compilation of sounds that were based off of classic literature, piqued my interest. granted, not not fun beat them to the punch with their extravagant tapeworms eat bookworms a few years back, but the literary theme, outside of the packaging for it, was pretty hard to pick up in the music. could this one be any different? how the hell would i know? i take a real hands-off approach towards books, and as a result haven't read or even heard of most of the ten books which provided inspiration. those literary works, in order, being: valis, ihmiselon ihanuus ja kurjuus, yukiguni, les chants de maldoror, une saison en enfer, mary poppins (saw the movie!), mirdja, walden, the bible (okay, i have managed to hear about this one before) and virtahepo olohuoneessa.
one of the best and worst things about books is how they're open to interpretation. that's one of the real reasons that i'm not too into reading. i always fail to grasp the 'greater meaning' and then someone tells you, no, that wasn't about a poor family living in the midwest, it was a dichotomy between blah and blah. then i just get pissed. with that in mind, one of the things that i like the most about this cd is how you have different artists, from different locations, with different books creating music that blends well together, for the most part. maybe all of the books that they read were really just metaphors for pleasant folk-based music?
reading sounds wisely starts off with brent mini & eric lampton's piece. synchronocity music most projects the feel of the book, which is science-fiction. not only that, but the artists' names are actually taken from the book, and the end of the track features a computerized voice reading an excerpt from valis. their track has a spacey minimal feel to it, and i think that it does a good job establishing theme and mood, yet it's one of the cd's weaker tracks.
from there we'll go to one of the best pieces of music by iamheard. the novel it's based off of is titled the loveliness and wretchedness of human life, and judging purely by the name, i think that they do a great job of conveying that imagery. hongistola's a moody number that centers around a sample of a thunderstorm and pairs that with delicate and somber piano playing.
santtu hirvikorpi's komako was inspired by a late 1940s japanese novel. graciously, santtu will employ some sounds and instrumentation that are recognizable as being traditionally asian, while also bringing in a western folk element.
after that prettier offering we're greeted (annoyed by?) a kitschy old school drum machine loop (mogwai's superheroes of bmx, anyone?). palvelu will also use some minimal piano playing and the way that his vocals are recorded, actually makes me kind of like this song. the biggest issue that i have with this is that its inspiration was supposed to come from a book of prose from 1869. the drum machine just seems like a really odd choice to me.
the droning layers of haute cuisine's une saison en enfer seems to do justice to rimbaud's hallucinatory inclinations. the song is nothing remarkable, but it's short and sweet.
ah, hell yeah, robert horton, one of the two artists i recognize on here. robert doesn't disappoint either with his lush "i am not a centipede", said mary poppins. the first half of the track involves a simplistic layer of repetitious drones in the background and what i'm guessing is a xylophone. the xylo taps are spaced out so that each one is giving the room that it needs to vibrate, echo and eventually drone away, building up the atmosphere. the latter half will add some acoustic guitar plucks to the mix. heavenly.
mirdja, by vellamo, is a lovely bit of minimal acoustic folk. i'm a firm believer that you can't have too many folky finnish ladies with nice voices. it's a very wonderful language that's mind boggling to have to enunciate, but it sounds so beautiful sung. i especially like the second half of mirdja with the multi-tracked and panned spoken word vocals seemingly coming at you from everywhere.
alligator crystal moth, i've heard of you, too. while i'm not very sure how their blend of traditional folk and psych-rock impulses convey henry david thoreau's "social critique of (the) contemporary western world and the study of simple life", it sure sounds great! the affected guitar noise and feedback which closes out white lilies was a real punch in the arm.
another nice job with the arrangement comes by way of placing the two worst songs in the last positions. hydor kephale's gothic knife rule is far too long at ten minutes and the music itself is minimal electronic, in a not too dissimilar vein to the valis track, which is alright (but not at that length) and then added to that are affected, multi-tracked vocals, giving it a dark vibe. i'm pretty sure that the lyrics are taken from the gospel of luke 2:1-20, and are delivered in a talking manner. one layer's slowed down for maximum effect. i couldn't make it past six minutes before i skipped ahead.
... which prematurely brought me to marko marin's virtahevon kuolema. comparatively, i'd probably rather listen to gothic knife rule. it's summed up best as new age. awful. there's a bit of percussion that's not so bad, but the synth screams enya! shit, i'd rather listen to enya's sail away than this. bummer.
listening to this disc in its entirety might leave you feeling kind of salty, but knowing that you can hit stop after that great eighth track and not miss out on anything is nice. as with nearly every good compilation, you're going to get some bad songs, some really good ones, and a handful of alright ones. in that tradition, reading sounds was a success. seeing as how the best artists on this disc don't have releases on the label (yet, marko marin does), it doesn't give me a very clear idea as to the direction of luovaja. then again, it wasn't meant to serve as a sampler." (avant gardening / Smooth Assailing)
"The label is unknown to me, and so are the artists involved in this Cdr compilation. "Reading Sounds" is various musicians interpretations of literature. The idea does not make me curious though, so I hope the music will prove it self. I am not in the mood for some half assed folk project right now, the cover is the cause of this fear with it's medieval theme.
I press play and the first track takes me by surprise. It's a minimalist and isolated electronic track. It very interesting and well done. So I wonder why on earth they had to squeeze that horrible computerized voice in at the end...that ruined it completely and what started out as a mature and compelling track, ended silly. Shame. From here it really doesn't pick up... The production on track two is so poor it's hard to even listen to. And the sound level has not been well mastered, that makes me turn the volume up and down through out the entire CD. Did track 2 end? It was much to short to leave an impression. Track 3 is more fascinating taking me to the far east, Japan to be specific. It's very well done, obviously a talented musician with a nerve for melancholy and subtle atmospheres. It's not a magnificent piece of work, but it's the best so far. Track 4 ... I don't get track 4. A drum machine in the background, and a breathless, off key and anaemic vocal does not help. At all. A soft spoken word approach would have taken this track in a whole new direction, the soft synth piano adds to the misery. And the track ends abruptly as if part of the track was cut short by mistake. Oh lord. OK, track 5. It's a pleasant folk track with elements of drones and the ethereal. By now I am scared the track will suddenly change into something weird based on what I've heard so far, and I am glad to inform you it does not. It's a calming little number. Track 6. Also a interesting track, giving off a much more tactile vibe due to accordion and xylophone (?). This track like it's predecessor stays calm and focused mastering the skill of minimalism. I really enjoy this and I have to look more into name here.
Track 7 plagues me with a horrible off key guitar, and again the mastering is total shite. No Sir, you are not arty, you cannot pull this off. To me it sounds like someone practising guitar for the first time. I don't like it when my neighbours do that, and I certainly don't want to spend time listening to it on CD. Track 8 then. This is the most experimental so far with experimental jazz and noise elements combined with folk vibes. It's very chaotic yet structured and I have to say this is my fav track. I can imagine this would be an interesting live project as the noise ending seems improvised. Well done. This track also ends abruptly how ever. Track 9 would benefit from the same as track 4: Loose the horrible vocals. The soundscapes are interesting and well done, but the manipulated and drowned vocals drags the track down beyond salvation I am afraid. Cred for being the longest track though. I do enjoy tracks 6 minutes or longer and this runs 10 mins ++. Track 10 ...well.....this track could actually have been quite cool with it's 70's and 80's horror film vibes. It makes me think of various Dario Argento scenes and I love that. But I can't tell if they went for the 70's vibe with intent. If they did then kudos for trying.
So all in all folks this is not something I would recommend to anyone. It's a very tedious listen, crappy mastering and production. I don't enjoy a crystal crisp production, but an even level in volume is the minimum criteria. The tracks are so schizophrenic and poorly done for the most part, it was triying listening to the entire CD with a couple of exceptions. Skip this release and go straight for the artist whom I feel did a good job. Maybe some pearls will wait for you there, You will not find them in this release I can tell you that.." (Batcheeba&Gird09 / Heathen Harvest)