After the release of Pq debut album ‘You’ll Never Find Us Here’ and following a period of quietness. This surprising second album appears on Expanding Records in 2010. It was released just a mere month or so later (AUG2010). As would be expected (it’s Expanding after all) it is another excellent debut album, this time around it’s entitled ‘Soundtrack Work 2004-2008’ and it’s written and produced by: Teho Teardo. He is half of Modern Institute and in 2006 they released the ‘Excellent Swimmer’ album on Expanding Records the other half of Modern Institute is fellow musician Martina Bertoni.
On ‘Soundtrack Work 2004-2008’, which also happens to be a very descriptive title of the album you’ll find expectedly crafted soundtrack tracks, a selection of Teho Teardo’s compositional work related to cinema. On the album (compilation) the sonic work included in five movies is included. Given that the origin is the same, that is, the same person has written the music there is a theme of sorts and listening to the album end-to-end is a gratifying experience. It soothing music with a lot of warmth, in some sense transparent and with nothing but a cinematic feel.
I usually try very hard to refrain from making references to the general or the concept of the general when writing about music, but when it comes to soundtracks, then it becomes really hard not doing so, because they, the soundtracks that is, do seem to have a general trait and would appear to be sharing something that is a common and mind you, this is not necessarily a bad thing. That being said, ‘Soundtrack Work 2004-2008’ is one beautiful collection of music, put together with great care and it caters for a nimbleness listen and to sum it up it’s another great release from the pursuers of excellence: Expanding Records.
After being quiet for a period of time a new release on Expanding Records finally arrives (JUN2010)! And it is another debut album and it is as many times before a high-quality piece of music. Reflecting the undeniable and dramatic changes in the near past, this is appears to be a CD release only (no vinyl this time around, a pity, but not all that surprising). Once the unquestionable beacon of well-thought-through purist electronic music, Expanding has adapted its position in order to stay in front. And with the years’ that have past and especially looking back, Pq’s debut album is not a turning point for Expanding. I dear to say that it happened some albums ago and I also think that in even that aspect Expanding was ahead of their time. ‘You’ll Never Find Us Here’ is excellent and it seems to have a longevity factor to it (mind you 2010 hasn’t ended yet). It might be because of its production, it might be of its enticing beauty, it might be because it ‘s an Expanding release, it might or it might not be because the majority of the rest of the contemporary releases just doesn’t sound as good. Honestly, who can resist a solitary un-damped piano track? For sure it is not electro, and it is not all that electronic, but then again this is not the year 2000. Expanding Records manages to surprise once again… I strongly suggest you make up your own mind.
Songs06.txt is up for immediate release (AUG 2007) and it is the French recording artist Vs_price return to the Expanding label. After his much talked about album debut on the same label in 2002 (wow, time does really fly when you’re having oh so much fun). Songs06.txt (an impossible title for an album, but never mind that) contains 10 collage-like tracks and they all have a strong work-in-progress feeling to them. And I for one am fully prepared to believe that their origin is supposedly mainly from various live performances made during the past years. This is also in my mind reflected onto the album itself and that is one of the reasons it displays several musical directions at once from the acoustic to the quite energetic and electronic. Where track number eight entitled Musicman is an example of the latter with its high paced beats and looped melody fused with a touch of glitch, completely contrasting the forerunners it is an interesting track. I can’t help but wondering if maybe Songs06.txt is the perfect testament to the breakwater that can be heard so clearly within the narrow field of electronic music movement dealt with here and where the “victorious” path is surprising or in any case disappointing. Let the machines, be machines… that aside, let it be said that Vs_price’s second full-length is far from being generic and that is is most definitely contemporary. The packaging with its classic striking front cover photograph is beautiful and the overall production is executed to perfection. Vs_price and Expanding line-up the 28th release and do so with grace.
Cracked Mirrors and Stopped Clocks is a debut album on the ever so consistent Expanding label. Moving further and further into the middle-earth of acoustic based music that seems to be the dominating form of the elusive non-category electronica these days. It is mature and precise music, virtually beatless, but showing no shortage of warmth. Origamibiro who is Tom Hill has produced a thoroughly beautiful album that is both pensive and melancholic. In some sense Expanding’s sound is converging toward the sound of Resonant and Static Caravan, but the dramatic setting of the first is not that of Expanding and the label continues to preserve their unique outlook on contemporary electronica. A final note on the album’s artwork because most likely is this year’s best album cover. Pure genius in all its simplicity the minimal graphic concept is reminiscent of the excellent cover for Flotel’s innovative Wooden Beard album released some years ago. But hey, it’s Expanding so anything less would surely have been hugely disappointing. Origamibiro and Expanding line-up the 27th release and do so with grace.
The change of direction has already been revealed and verified, for an ultra-consistent label like Expanding anything else would have been impossibility. Oblong’s full-length shares more than one thing in common with the last three releases on Expanding and fit precisely into their overall musical scheme. As is the always the case on Expanding (with the odd exception) the album is also a debut release. If nothing else it is a testament to the clarity of vision held by Expanding’s A&R where each subsequent release offers something new and at the same time offering something very, very familiar. The acoustics are now in the forefront rather than in the back and the rumour of a pending tour for Oblong does not come as a surprise. So what about the music? It’s soothing and heavily influenced by two things: one is jazz and the other would be Ben D Edwards. The well-known expert hand of Mr Edwards can be heard throughout the production, yet the production is much dirtier than you would be accustomed to. Given that you know his previous work or the work of Expanding for that matter, one can but help wondering how much of a struggle that actually was. However there plentiful of moments on this album that really could not have been made by another living individual and the similarities to Stendec are more than striking at times. To summarise: Oblong’s 1st and Expanding’s 26th album release sees the label pursuing a new direction, leaves them looking as strong as ever. Although they may also loose something in the process, moving closer to label friends such as Static Caravan and giving up the rewards of a purist electronic take. Nonetheless, Expanding’s position as being one of the most interesting labels in the World today is utterly preserved.
The latest release from Expanding Records is the full-length album “Butterfly Wings Make” by Orla Wren. If one word could summarise an entire album, which it naturally cannot, it would be delicate. Once again Expanding manages to find an artist that bringing new sound to their catalogue, yet at the same time musters to retain everything that is uniquely Expanding. The quality of this release, packing and artwork is on par with any previous Expanding output. We’re counting in the 25th release and acknowledging that it is as enjoyable as the previous ones. The final note would be this: In the unlikely event that you’ve never heard of the little/big label named Expanding Records, do yourself a favour and investigate immediately.
The title is self-explanatory and this release is surrounded by mystery. It contains eight tracks by as many artists all naturally taken from Expanding’s catalogue. Orla Wren, Modern Institute, Flotel, Miller + Fiam, Benge, Stendec, Vessel and Cathode are included, in other words a regular who’s who at Expanding. The sampler is a promotional item, thereby not for resale and already causing severe headaches for the collectors.
So it has finally arrived (JUL 2006) and it’s the second instalment of Expanding’s evs-series “evsc2:06″ and once again they succeed in compiling beautiful electronic music that has a production standard second to none. Benge’s “Bambi”, Vessel’s “Fold” with exquisite beats and warm deep bass and Bauri’s “Have No Fear” exemplify that fact. The compilation is based around a series of nine 7-inch singles released on Expanding Records. Each 7-inch single was limited to 400 copies pressed on heavy, coloured vinyl and came in a custom, screen printed PVC, zip locked envelope. All the 7-inches contain exclusive tracks not included on this compilation. Flotel, Praveen, Myrakaru, Holkham, Vs_price, Monoceros, Maps + Diagrams also are also included among the released artists. The compilation also include remixes by AM/PM and Tunng. Expanding’s consistency as a label continues to impress and they master to perfection the daunting task to evolve and change yet retain the identity of the label. The “Condition of Muzak 2″ is a must for any serious electronica listener and/or collector.
“Modern Romance” is even more acoustic sounding than Expanding’s previous album release: Modern Institute’s “Excellent Swimmer” (MAR 2006). The current release “Modern Romance” by Miller + Fiam is a surprisingly conventional sounding yet highly jazz influenced album. The overall setting is very low-key and the productions are delicately put together, where slow ultra-light beats picked from the hip-hop realm are fused with gently treated guitars in layers, piano and various sampled instruments. There are some references as well for example to the increasingly prolific artist Melodium of French Autres Directions in Music fame. I must confess that accurately placed rim shots, seduces me every time without failure. “Modern Romance” is collection of thirteen high-quality jazz infused, hip-hop beats’ based mainly analogue electronic music and Expanding Record’s 24th full-length album release at that.
“Excellent Swimmer” is the title of Expanding’s next musical offering to the World. An interesting release in more aspects than one, since it sees this high-quality label taking a slightly different musical path than usual, yet unmistakeably in that very typical Expanding way, the music made by “Modern Institute” still fit precisely into the overall musical scheme. As is the always the case on Expanding (with the odd exception) the album is also a debut release. If nothing else it is a testament to the clarity of vision held by Expanding’s A&R where each subsequent release offers something new and at the same time offering something very, very familiar. Modern Institute is a duo comprised of Theo Teardo and the cellist Martina Bertoni and the latter fact would account for the dominance of that particular instrument and to great effect I might add. And at times this well executed mix of various acoustic and electronic sounds have striking similarities to both label mates Stendec and Benge. At second thought maybe not all that surprising. To summarise: Modern Institute’s 1st and Expanding’s 23rd album release sees the label go in a new direction, leaves them looking stronger than ever and manifests Expanding’s position as one of the most interesting labels in the World today.