Archive for July, 2009

The Echo Garden | review in Igloo Magazine

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

“Irish composer Jimmy Behan creates his music by processing electro-acoustic sounds and field-recordings. Therefore it was no surprise to hear a collection of oozing tonal meditations on this disc. The Echo Garden is chock full of swirly pianos, droning detuned synths, bells, clicks, scraps and bit-degradation, all lending to a hearty slurry ambient relaxation.
Stand out pieces are Rust which features a lazily pulsing wind chime against a deep filtered sting pad with some sizzles and pops to season, Across The Rooftops which plays with the notion of rhythm – threatening a 3/4 waltz with every measure, and the epic-length Dusk which crawls through Behan’s disc-spanning repertoire in its nearly 9 minute length.
It should be noted that Jimmy Behan currently holds an M. Phil in Music and Media Technologies from Trinity College in Dublin. This serves to solidify that the smart ones always make the “weird” music. That’s definitely not a bad thing at all. The world needs more soothing, and folks like Behan are well equipped to do so.”
R Garcia.
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Performing at the Netaudio Festival | Berlin, October 8th

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

Will be performing at the Netaudio Festival 2009 in Berlin on the Experimental Stage on Thursday 8th October 2009.
The festival runs from the 8th-11th October at the Maria am Ostbahnhof venue.

The Echo Garden | review in Tokafi

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

“There may be some classic cinematic connections to the work of Jimmy Behan. In the epic masterwork of schmaltz & tears, Sissi, the peoples of Hungary are crowning their new king Franz Joseph I on top of a small artificial mountain erected by piling up samples of earth from their respective provinces. In a scene of similar emotional impact from Marco Bechis’ recent drama La terra degli uomini rossi (Birdwatchers), meanwhile, Brazilian Indians demonstrate their deep relationship with the soil by grabbing a handful and eating it – to the bewilderment of a “21st century” planter. The message of these rituals is clea: Whether we accept it or not, we are all inherently rooted in the place we were born, even though the de-branching tendency of these times of sending us from one anonymous place to the next is wiping out the comforting reassurance of these ties. For Behan, too, there is a place with great emotional resonance, buried in the chinks of his memory: A narrow and winding track along the river which, in his childhood imagination, would lead him all the way to the end of the world. The Echo Garden, for Behan, marks the musical return to this path in an effort of reconciling the artistic possibilities and inspirations of the big city with the urgent need of belonging somewhere.
The personal relevance of this theme may explain why the full-length follow-up to Behan’s widely applauded debut Days Are What We Live In, at one time tentatively announced for 2006, is now published with a three year delay. In fact, it may be a completely different record altogether. Defining a corresponding palette of ideas and timbres demanded time and attention, as the focus shifted from working on arrangements and thematic development to exploring the inner life of sounds. Delineating which tools and techniques NOT to use and how to avoid a regular instrumentation of Guitars, Bass and Drums took on seminal importance. Samples, with their inbuilt associations and metaphorical allusions, were shed. Instead, The Echo Garden aims at creating a self-referential microcosm, based upon harmony, intimacy and fluent lines of demarcation between music, colour, spatial sound effects and a quiet world of organic noises.
Even though there is both a clear narrative development to the album as a whole (its track listing opens with Awake and closes with Dusk) as well as a lot of inward movement to each piece, its gentle gestures and the absence of any kind of target vector create a sensation of peaceful tranquility and complete calm. One of the compositions is called Clock For No Time, and its title effectively describes the agreeable separation of the inner and outer experience of time so characteristic of those days spent in the intense now of youthful exploration. It is almost as though, as a spectator, one were weightlessly reclining on the ground along the water, gazing on the playful dance of dragonflies and birds in the air. On Pools, a piano paints dabbers of cloudy white into the sky’s shimmering blueness, its at first solitary tones coalescing into an elegantly shaped pattern for a striking second, before gradually disintegrating again. Quasi-canon Rust, by contrast, feeds from the graceful tension of two almost identical melodic lines flowing increasingly out of sync with each other.
Even though Behan is guiding his acoustic needle with the firm hands of a weaver working on a tapestry of gossamer silk and despite prior claims towards wanting to “get rid of all the music”, the record has nonetheless turned out a collection of tracks with a mind of their own. Each of them presents a new idea, in turn relying on a looped cycle of droning bass notes, the slow decay of a warm drone into silence or the juxtaposition of a continuous melody with a backdrop of far-away field recordings. Derelict even disrupts the harmonious surface with discreet dissonances, which are, however, softened by embedding them into gripping thematic movement. As if incorporating the essence of pastoral beauty, The Echo Garden opens up to all senses, revealing its dazzling complex of sweet sounds, refined tastes, impressionist images and sensual perfumes in small doses of complementary quality. If his intention was truly to “just leave the good stuff”, the album has succeeded admirably.
From my balcony, I can see into the garden of an elderly couple. Each day, they will tend to their plants, water the flowers and crawl on their knees to tear out the weeds between the stones that form a path leading from the garage to the patio on the other end of the green. After the work is done, they will sit down on the patio’s bench, enjoy the pleasures of relaxation after a day of laboring in the summer sun and look at the outcome of their sweat. The Echo Garden seems to try and capture this moment of bliss, forged by sensations of purpose and devotion. Like them, Jimmy Behan has quietly cultivated the garden of his melancholia for the past years and distilled its fruit into an album which grows on listeners quietly yet insistently. The music is the movie here. Listening with your inner eyes will bring out the full cinematic qualities of this tender trip.”
Tobias Fischer
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The Echo Garden | review in The Milk Factory

Friday, July 17th, 2009

“Irish sound artist Jimmy Behan first appeared in 2001 with an EP released on Kin Recordings and a split single with Connectfour Orchestra on Road Relish, but it is with his debut album, Days Are What We Live In, released three years later, that he first got the chance to fully showcase his sound, bringing together acoustic instruments, found sounds and electronic treatments to create evocative sonic vignettes. Five years and a couple of EPs later, Behan returns, this time on the excellent Audiobulb, with The Echo Garden, his second full-length.

While Days Are What We Live In had quite a bucolic feel, Behan was working with folk song structures which he adorned with gentle beats and discreet electronics, finding himself somewhere roughly in the vicinity of Four Tet or early Manitoba/Caribou. The Echo Garden is a much more free-flowing and delicate affair, as he strips his compositions of any rigid element and focus on the dream-like aesthetic of his sound formations. The result is a wonderfully airy and fresh collection which, echoing the picture on the cover, catches light through beautifully crafted layers of sonic particles. There is, here, very little remaining of the fully formed melodies that formed the backbone of Days Are What We Live In. Instead, it is through slight changes in tone or grain that Behan builds his narrative and affects the mood of a piece, occasionally adding a discreet piano or guitar motif as to trace, for a moment, a stronger line over a dusting of shimmering sounds. This is the case on the gossamer Pools for instance which opens with a hazy drone but takes a more defined shape as a warm piano pierces through the clouds, or later on the desolate Leaving Here, where a muffled loop progressively goes out of sync.

There is an impression of decay throughout this record, at times captured in the track titles (Rust, Leaving Here, Clock For No Time, Derelict, Dusk) and persistently embodied in the sound elements used and the treatments applied. Behan doesn’t work with crystalline soundscapes and polished surfaces. Instead, each sound is aged, distressed, rendered grainy and textured, and placed within larger constellations which in turn flicker like old films or scintillate like pieces of glass in the sun. Pieces like Rust, Clock For No Time or Across The Rooftops have a warm glow about them which radiates far beyond their respective span and appear to spill over their surrounding environments, while at the same time appearing blemished and patined.

In the five years between his first and second album, Jimmy Behan has totally rethought his approach and moved away from recognisable structures to develop his own language, and, while his sound sources haven’t changed massively, it is what he does with them and how he blends them together that gives The Echo Garden its intense poetic palette.”
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Dani Baquet-Long (Celer) has passed away, aged 26

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

Today came the terribly sad news of the passing of Dani Long, who along with her husband Will, recorded under the name of Celer. While only recently making her acquaintance online, I had been very familiar with her work over the past few years, as was anyone with even a passing interest in contemporary ambient music. I always felt their prolific output came from a very honest place, utterly free of any pretensions and full of wonder for the world around us. As well as her work as Celer, she also recorded as Chubby Wolf, and has left behind an extensive body of work that puts the rest of us musicians to shame. If you haven’t listened to any of it yet, you really should.

Dani Baquet-Long 1983 – 2009.

From the Celer myspace page:

“Dear friends,

With great sadness I have to announce to you, our friends, that Dani passed away yesterday, July 8. On Tuesday morning I woke to find her unconscious, and not breathing. The medics were called, and she was revived, but fell directly into a coma and didn’t wake up. She passed away yesterday at 3pm, with her family by her. All that is known to say why is that her heart stopped, for no foreseeable reason. The only relation is that her father died in the same way, of a cardiac arrest at the age of 29. She was 26.
Right now I don’t know how to express the loss and sadness I feel, knowing that someone so ultimately close to me, and such an inspiration and friend to so many other people in the world is gone. All I can say is that she won’t be forgotten, or pushed aside only because she’s gone. She’ll always be with me, as my inspiration, my love, my everything. All I can say is I miss her, every second.
Right now I won’t be able to answer many emails, as there’s only so much I can talk about this. Time will heal this, but I know the sadness will never go away. This, I’m ok with, as I never want to forget every way she changed my life, and touched my heart.
I appreciate all your support and love, and even though many of you only knew her through her poetry, or her music, I hope they are good memories. Enclosed is a favorite photo of her, taken at her beach, at home.
Also, here was her favorite quote:

“The Meaning is in the Wonder”
– Kenneth Patchen.

Will.” (Celer website)

Sound Proector podcast #2 features Clock For No Time

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

Clock For No Time is featured in a new podcast from the Russian webzine Sound Proector along with a review of The Echo Garden.

01. Pillowdiver – Seven (12k)
02. Mem1 – +Steve Roden (Interval)
03. Nebulo – Substeel Animal (Hymen)
04. Hecq – I Will Survive (with Nongenetic) (Hymen)
05. Parallel Worlds – Compulsive Mechanics (Din)
06. Rosy Parlane – Nica (Nexsound)
07. Rmsonce – Saturday Morning (Medusa Music)
08. Jimmy Behan – Clock For No Time (Audiobulb)

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