Jesse Somfay

ASIP - Reflection on 2016

 

2016 was a busy year! The label started with the Arovane & Hior Chronik Remix EP, then Merrin Karras' glorious synthesizer piece, Apex. And more recently, the much-desired 36 album, The Infinity Room.  It was also a very sad year in many ways, with ASIP artist, Igor Bystrov aka Parks, passing away. The In Memory EP, featuring a collection of his works was also released, with all proceeds going to Igor's family. Thank you to everyone who supported the label and the artists throughout 2016 - I can't express how grateful I am to have such an amazing bunch of listeners and supporters.

It was an amazing year for music. I was overwhelmed for the most part, and didn't get round to writing about half as many albums as I would have liked to. But my yearly Reflections mix goes some way in helping soothe my guilt and pain. Featuring many of my favorite tracks from some of my favorite albums and releases from the year, it's my version of the infamous journo 'best-of' list but presented in the best way possible I start with a playlist including one track from every album I've enjoyed over the year, and then whittle it down, based on what sounds right in the mix and ultimately, what I've been listening to the most. It goes without saying, this only scrapes the surface of the many great albums and releases we've been treated to in 2016.

A quick run down of the inclusions in this years mix...

Sad Elron, the one track I spent the year looping, was the standout in one of this years best albums from Mark Pritchard. Bvdub surprised us with a selection of shorter-than-normal cuts, and potentially his best album yet. The Green Kingdom is this years under-the-radar gem, cutting up dubby-ambient and post-rock. Steve Hauschildt topped the year of the synthesizer, as did Phaeleh, with outstanding albums on both fronts. ASC made a sneaky retro-electronica appearance as Comit. Synkro enlisted the best for his remix EP - with Helios providing a glorious take, alongside a superb album of his own. Jesse Somfay returned after over 5-years with a unique and exciting new album. Segue turned in da-dub as usual on the ever-brilliant Silent Season. Isan made a return with their quirky melodic electronica. The Orb made an attempt to out-chill-out the Chill Out. Ametsub dropped a sneaky jazz-infused ambient piece. Tangent proved the newcomer of the year on n5MD. Jóhann Jóhannsson should be on the front-cover of Time magazine as man of the year with his outstanding score for Arrival and another complete masterpiece in Orphée. Heck got the remastering and reworking of choice by Field Rotation's Christopher Berg. Ocoeur got our year off to a stunner with his modern-classical masterpiece. Eluvium won the hearts of everyone with his operatic tearjerker. Drape kept Infraction's continually brilliant ambient output up-to-scratch. Warmth treated us to one of the years best ambient surprises. Deepchord turned in one of the years best remixes - out-ambienting Wolgang Voigt's flip. Benoit Pioulard broke his wrist and showed us how to remix Aphex Twin. Porya Hatami and Arovane joined forces once again book-ending their ASIP remix EP.  And lastly, as a special tribute, we end the mix on one of my favourite tracks by Park from 2009 - RIP.

And breathe. Enjoy the look back.

Download.

Tracklist:

01. Mark Pritchard - Sad Alron [Under The Sun] (Warp)
02. Bvdub - 07 [Yours Are Stories Of Sadness] (Self)Read the review
03. The Green Kingdom - Haze Layers [Harbor] (Dronarivm) 
04. Steve Hauschildt - Time We Have [Strands] (Kranky) Read the review
05. Phaeleh - Frequency [Illusion of The Tale] (Undertow) Read the review
06. Comit - Under Your Spell [Trip 01] (Warm Communications) Read the review
07. Synkro - Midnight Sun (Helios Remix) [Changes Remix EP] (Apollo)
08. Jesse Somfay - Chorona (A Voice Like Sunshine) [Levamentum] (Tipping HandRead the review
09. Segue - Deep Valley [Over The Mountains] (Silent Season
10. Isan - Lace Murex [Glass Bird Movement] (MorrRead the review
11. The Orb - 4am Exhale [COW] (Kompakt)
12. Ametsub - Skydroppin' [Skydroppin' EP] (Blueberry Records)
13. Tangent - Perceived Horizon [Collapsing Horizons] (n5MD)
14. Jóhann Jóhannsson - Heptapod B [Arrival OST] (Deutschegrammophon)
15. Hecq - Night Falls (reworked by Christopher Berg) [Night Falls] (Hymen Records)
16. Ocoeur - Fixo 2 [Reversed] (n5MD) Read the review
17. Eluvium - Fugue State [False Readings On] (Temporary ResidenceRead the review / mix
18. Drape - Detrial Rest [Let There Water Air] (Infraction)
19. Helios - Land Father [Remembrance] (Unseen Music) Read the review
20. Warmth - Odessa [Essay] (Archives) Read the review / mix 
21. Peter Michael Hamel - Colours of Time [Reinterpreted] (Deepchord’s Carolina Forest Mix) Read the review
22. Benoit Pioulard - Stone In Focus [Radial] Read the review / mix
23. Porya Hatami & Arovane - iaan [Kaziwa] (Time Released Sound
24. Jóhann Jóhannsson - Flight From The City [Orphée] (Deutschegrammophon) Read the review
25. Parks - Eternal Wind [Hidden] (Infraction - 2009)

[Artwork / photo taken on a trip to Japan in August 2016]

 

Jesse Somfay - Levamentum [Aqua Regia]

 

Jesse Somfay has consistently evolved since I first latched on to his productions in 2004 on Traum Schallplatten and Archipel. Pioneering a trance-like sound amongst a wave of minimal techno, Jesse provided a base for a more intelligent and happier take on the hip-output of the time, adding a surprisingly softer element to an otherwise stagnating genre with one of my favorite albums, Between Heartbeats

Jesse then progressed into darker territories with his Borealis alias, forging sounds that were more akin to Burial's future garage and ambient dub productions. His output as Borealis was understated and he was undoubtedly one of the most forward thinking producers at the time. Watching his every move, Borealis turned in dark and hauntingly beautiful albums such as Voidness, and spurred remixes from the likes of Hecq, and Dominik Eulberg (still one of the biggest tracks you'll hear to this day) along with unofficial remixes himself like his rework of Massive Attack's, Teardrop

Needless to say, news of his most recent album recently was warmly received. Released on Tipping Hand, an LA based label previously responsible for a Borealis EP in 2014, the label has ventured into its first vinyl press, affording Jesse's Levamentum, the platform it deserves. 

Going back to his full name as opposed to the Borealis alias, this signaled an obvious change in style, but one that has been hibernating for a good five years. Where Jesse would end up taking this album was anyones guess. Glistening melodic techno? Dark and dubby ambient? How would his notorious love of Trance music come into play?

Levamentum sits somewhere left-centre of all the above. A damn fine positioning considering the many places Jesse could have taken it. Jesse has evidently been having fun with a multitude of sounds; pads, synths and soaring keys, with each playing pivotal roles against a chamber of colorful, bouncing melodies. The light-hearted examples found in his early Archipel releases are still there, often with an undercurrent of slighter darker tones, whilst the progressive trance-like repetition is stripped out to make way for a more playful, pop feel.

Retro-wave in approach, experimental in execution; this is a defining piece in Jesse's evolving armory. You can hear elements of his previous productions throughout, with soaring synths in Supernatural Flirt, and emotional Borealis-style pull in album opener Scorpia White. Eno/Budd-style ambient textures in Vermeer and Lily give the album a warm, retro feel, whilst IDM style-beats in Atalanta keep you off track. Not content with this combination, the album still has the ability to leave you open-gasped at progressive-sounding tracks like Andromeida, as Jesse combines innovative beat-work with his love for the synthesizer. 

Levamentum is a dedication to the many capabilities, combinations and left-of-centre concoctions only someone as vivid in color as Jesse Somfay could manufacture.  Like the dancing ballerina you see on the artwork, this album was never going to be as obvious as what you see and hear on first sight; the thoughts going through the performers head, the work that went into it and tjhe flickering, vignetted picture you watch through the retro kaleidoscope is only half the story at play, and it gives a little more with every listen.

Available in digital and double vinyl on Bandcamp.

 

Passing by: Echaskech, Kangding Ray, Textural Being, Edanticonf & Jesse Somfay

Echaskech – Form | Function

Echaskech are long overdue a new album and news of their latest masterpiece, ‘Origin’ landed in my inbox last week. It’s been on repeat ever since and i’m working on a full review, but until then you can get a small tantalising node of Ech with an EP titled ‘Form | Function’ – set to be released on the 17th Feb prior to the full album dropping on 24th Feb. Keep your eye on Just Music for more news.

 
 

Kangding Ray – History of Obscurity

I’ve got to admit i’ve always been a bit reactive with Kangding Ray’s releases. Sometimes they’re a little too much for my liking and need a certain mood (one which i’m not always in). But the video for the track ‘History Of Obscurity’ confirms what many reviews were reporting – that “the different sequences (from the upcoming album) are arranged seamlessly into dense, evolving compositions, while keeping their autonomy,”. Perhaps this is a clever way of saying this album will span a few styles of techno? Either way, this is one album I will be positively pursuing. ‘History of Obscurity’ will be released on February 24th via Raster Noton.

 
 

Textural Being – Cranberry

Textural Being has become synonymous with dreamy dub-techno, so it’s a rather pleasant surprise to see him creep out of this title slightly. This EP, uploaded to Soundcloud as a free download sees Sage experimenting with percussion, leaving the bubbly beats alone and creeping into a funkier, more techy vibe. Download on Soundcloud.

 
 

Edanticonf – The Boundary of Nowhere Land

Silent Season’s latext vinyl issue is a euphoric and expansive techno piece. This is the kind of stuff you lose yourself with – in amongst a dense forest surrounded by nature and solitude. And i’m pretty sure that’s exactly what Silent Season and Edanticonf are hoping for. Look out for a full review soon – i’m waiting for my LP to drop through the door any day now. See Silentseason.com for more info.

 
 

Jesse Somfay – Love Affair With The Moon.

Jesse Somfay has had somewhat of a revival with his most recent electronic ventures as Borealis. I’ve been a big fan of him since his very early releases on Traum and his melodic techno back then was every bit as unique as his recent electronic onslaught under the Borealis name. Just like 2005’s ‘Between Heartbeats’ and 2009’s ‘A Catch In The Voice’, his first release on Archipel, ‘Love Affair With The Moon’ is beautifully rewarding minimal techno. Recently uploaded to Soundcloud, you can download the release for free over at Archipel.

“As the sun rises over a perfectly calm ocean, pink popcorn clouds spackle the sky and an ethereal moon grows weary and sets as sand blows around with a gentle breeze”

 
 

isolatedmix 04 - Jesse Somfay

Both unique and genre defining, Jesse Somfay’s productions stretch across melodic techno, delicate ambient and epic heavy drone laden masterpieces. His latest album; A Catch In the Voice captures it all and has remained one of my most played since release. And his early releases on Traum, some of my most treasured vinyl. So let’s just say I was a tad happy when Jesse agreed to put together the 4th installment of the isolatedmix series.

My past experience of Somfay mixes have seen him stick to his production style. A live PA at Cadenza Lucida, ‘Our Lonely Pink Hearts Are Full Of Joy’ mix and a set on ‘Ultramagnetic’ Radio show. However, in a similar vain to his latest Hexahedral mixes, isolatedmix 04 sees Jesse orchestrate a journey into music he loves. Old, new, ambient, acoustic, indie, shoegaze, metal, electronica… and with nearly ten hours to get through, I shouldn’t even really be trying to categorise it.

That’s right, nine hours of music. Titled ‘Aesopica’ its a mammoth 101 tracks, in three parts. The first part available below on Soundcloud, and the other two downloadable should you want to experience the epic trilogy.

Part 1.

 
 

Download

Part 1 Tracklisting:
0001 Verse En Coma – Untitled
0002 Death Cab For Cutie – Passenger Seat
0003 Blueneck – Lilitu
0004 Nine Inch Nails – Lights In The Sky
0005 Blueneck – Epiphany
0006 Bosse – VI
0007 Grouper – When We Fall
0008 Nine Inch Nails – Ghosts IV – III
0009 Grouper – We’ve All Time To Sleep
0010 Burial – Forgive
0011 Grouper – Heavy Water / I’d Rather Be Sleeping
0012 Tiny Vipers – Campfire Resemblance
0013 Kevin Devine – It’s Only Your Life
0014 Tiny Vipers – On This Side
0015 Radiohead – Thinking About You
0016 Division Day – Enjoy the Silence
0017 Nine Inch Nails – Ghosts I – IV
0018 Division Day – Reservoir
0019 Nine Inch Nails – Ghosts II – VIII
0020 Sneaker Pimps – Walking Zero
0021 Nine Inch Nails – The Fragile
0022 Nine Inch Nails – Ghosts IV – I
0023 Pyramids – Sleds
0024 Nine Inch Nails – A Warm Place
0025 Boris & Sunn O))) – Fried Eagle Mind
0026 Jodis – Ascent
0027 Pyramids With Nadja – Into The Silent Waves
0028 Nadja – I Make From Your Eyes The Sun
0029 The Angelic Process – Million Year Summer
0030 Pyramids With Nadja – An Angel Was Heard To Cry Over The City Of Rome
0031 The Angelic Process – Mouvement – The Rest Of The World Is Noise
0032 Boris – Luna
0033 Envy – A Road Of Winds The Water Builds
0034 Fall Of Efrafa – Republic Of Heaven

Part 2. Download

Tracklisting:
0035 Boris – Akirame Flower
0036 Jesu – Opiate Sun
0037 Jesu – Losing Streak
0038 The Black Heart Rebellion – Leaving The Capitals
0039 Envy – Life Caught In The Rain
0040 Latitudes – Antechamber
0041 Wolves In The Throne Room – A Looming Resonance
0042 Boris – 8
0043 Envy – Isolation Of A Light Source
0044 Boris – Farewell
0045 Her Name Is Calla – Nylon
0046 Laudanum – Invoke
0047 Kylesa – Unknown Awareness
0048 Floor – Scimitar
0049 Torche – Healer
0050 Magoo – Acid Goldbar
0051 Jucifer – Hennin Hardine
0052 Torche – Across The Shields
0053 Jucifer – Surface Tension
0054 True Widow – AKA
0055 Jucifer – Little Fever
0056 Converge – Grim Heart / Black Rose
0057 Deftones – Pink Maggit
0058 Tragedy – Night Falls
0059 Deftones – Be Quiet And Drive (Far Away)
0060 Dead Swans – When You Sleep
0061 Deftones – Digital Bath
0062 Converge – Jane Doe
0063 Thursday – Unintended Long Term Effects
0064 Fear Before – Get Your Life Together
0065 Thursday – An Absurd And Unrealistic Dream Of Peace
0066 Verse En Coma – Tiny Speakers
0067 Sights & Sounds – Pedal Against The Wind
0068 Fear Before – Fear Before Doesn’t Listen To People Who Don’t Like Them
0069 Sights & Sounds – Neighbours
0070 Fear Before – My (Fucking) Deer Hunter
0071 The Dillinger Escape Plan – Unretrofied
0072 Nine Inch Nails – The Great Destroyer
0073 Primal Scream – Deep Hit Of Morning Sun
0074 Converge – Disintegration

Part 3. Download.

0075 Sights & Sounds – Night Train
0076 Ruiner – Convenient Gods
0077 Killing The Dream – Fractures
0078 Have Heart – No Roses, No Skies
0079 Tragedy – Recurring Nightmare
0080 Tragedy – Deaf and Disbelieving
0081 Harum Scarum – Systematic Death
0082 Invasion – Evil Forest
0083 A Place To Bury Strangers – It Is Nothing
0084 Health – Eat Flesh
0085 Legion Of Two – Palace (Dub)
0086 Health – In Violet
0087 The Horrors – Sea Within A Sea
0088 The XX – Islands
0089 Silversun Pickups – Growing Old Is Getting Old
0090 A Place To Bury Strangers – Keep Slipping Away
0091 Catherine Wheel – Crank
0092 Division Day – Hurricane
0093 Logh – The Smoke Will Lead You Home
0094 True Widow – Duelist
0095 Silversun Pickups – There’s No Secrets This Year
0096 Dominic – End of Man
0097 Silversun Pickups – Sort Of
0098 Samara Lubelski – Field the Mine
0099 Ulrich Schnauss – Stars
0100 Nine Inch Nails – Hurt
0101 Nine Inch Nails – The Great Below