Cultural Bulletin
Cultural Bulletin is a quarterly magazine that provides an international view of creative work. We look to film, music, design and art as signifiers of our cultural moment.
Posts tagged Ambient
In Review: Red Lantern at the Kallikatsou - The Chi Factory featuring Hanyo van Oosterom

Record Label: Astral Industries

Hanyo van Oosterom’s (aka Chi Factory) Red Lantern at the Kallikatsou is a remix of DeepChord’s Lanterns and was released on Astral Industries on the 12th December, 2017.

Red Lantern at The Kallikatsou presents two 21 minute pieces filled with amorphous chambers soaked with history and emotion. They are set in worlds that hold the grandeur of lost civilisations - where only ruinous structures remain and haunted dissonance echoes eternally.

The record begins with water depicted figuratively, layered with indistinct speech and field recordings, before being enveloped by more mystical overtones that establish a theme that continues throughout. Over the course of the record the liquid becomes thicker - we hear cascades, dripping voids, eruptions, distant tides, reverberant rivers, still pools and at its end we experience full submersion. Each of these moments are articulated through impressionism, enhanced by synths and slow rhythms that the record is imbued with. The varying forms of water symbolically represent the power play between light and dark - a metaphor for the fragility in which life hangs, and its ability to transform between peace and chaos at any moment.

Sonically, the record employs a vast array of low fidelity YouTube samples, cassette recordings and pitch-shifted audio. The combination of these sounds, coupled with the complex layers, give a translucent quality in which the listener can hear elements that disintegrate in slow motion as something new emerges in its place. The soft distortion and distressed artefacts suggest a vulnerability within the balance of the component parts that, over time, depict a tension and unease as more somber and dissonant sounds appear.

Real beauty is both complex and simple at the same time. Witnessing beauty appear amongst distress substantiates its truth, meaning that we can more greatly appreciate its presence. AG

In Review: Finding Shore - Brian Eno and Tom Rogerson

Three Trapped Tigers frontman Tom Rogerson pairs with the great Brian Eno, delving into the depths of the subconscious, drawing on the landscape of the east of England.

In the 1700s, smugglers used windmill sails along the East Anglian coast as semaphores to ensure safe passage for their trade. When listening to Finiding Shore one can easily fall into the thought of Rogerson and Eno sending cryptic messages of optimism from a place drenched in British history that dates back to the Neolithic age, spanning to the foreboding uncertainty of today.

Tom Rogerson, known for his extemporaneous piano playing, opens his debut with ‘Idea of Order at Kyson Point’. It seems fitting, as this is where he and Eno both hail from. The track starts with a hypnotic bell that rings in nostalgia from Eno’s ambient series, however when Rogerson starts to play the piano, the pairs intuitive ability to find complex loops and patterns in the simplicity of their structure comes to light.

Unsurprisingly there is the occasional dissonant note that moves forward the idea of meditation and order to bring reality in through the window.

Using the Moog Piano Bar, Eno is put into the back seat, improvising with the midi signals generated by Rogerson when he breaks the infrared rays fired at the piano keys. ‘Motion in Field’, ‘Marsh Chorus’ and ‘Chain Home’ experiment with the synth to create a vibrant picture of the journey through land and sea. These tracks give a thirst for more but instead, we are given a reverberation of sound that gives the album a perfect composure.  

‘Eastern Stack’, an almost exact replication of the striking of John Cage’s prepared piano, is anxious yet ethereal giving us a true vision of the landscape, the beauty screaming of its past importance and the turbulence of today.  The record is very suited to improvisation and calls for our own interpretation, however, the selected loops and compositions do have an air of the subconscious, memories from someone who has lived in the very landscape and experienced the sounds and concepts that are dotted throughout.

Having met in a toilet after a gig they both attended, Rogerson and Eno successfully combine their talents to create an accomplished debut and give the listener a longing for their next project. Be it together or alone, the duo has certainly used their expertise to create a blueprint that ought and deserves to have an encore. BS

In Review: Raum - H. Takahashi

Record Label: Where To Now? Records


Sound Designer and architect H. Takahashi’s third record Raum is a deeply ambient record that is rooted in the functional aspects of the genre. Inherently centred in minimalist forms, the project’s themes of light, space and shape feel synonymous with the idealism held within Modernist architecture. Raum draws a comparison with Brian Eno’s exploration of the harmonious relationship between sound and space and its ability to aid the well-being of its inhabitants (see Music For Airports as a key example of this). Constructed solely on an iPhone whilst wandering through his home city of Tokyo, the connection between architecture and music is inescapable. There is a strong feeling that this record was made to serve an ergonomic function for people living in modern cities.

Although very relaxing, the music is clinical in its delivery, as if constructed by an algorithm to pacify the human mind, rather than a subjective expression of a single creator. It is at this point where Raum takes on more surreal qualities, so focussed on a transcendent harmony that it produces an artificial malaise - giving way to a hyperreal experience. Indirectly, it alludes to the conundrum of technological advancements, designed to make our lives easier and in the process disconnect us from something inherent within our nature. In the future, when humans are invariably enslaved and placed into quarantine by a superior artificial intelligence, something akin to Raum may be playing softly in the background and we’ll probably be blissfully unaware. AG