Sontag Shogun : tale (1st album released in 2014)
It's like a quiet world concentrated on the beauty and the darkness of artists such as Sigur Rós and Jóhann Jóhannsson.
'Tale' is the debut album from Sontag Shogun, an combination of analog and digital electronics + piano project based in Brooklyn, New York, comprised of former members from [the] slowest runner [in all the world]. Even before releasing the album, they had already toured extensively in the US, Canada, EU, etc., where they drew the attention of many listeners, and now they'll release the debut album 'Tale' on Palaver Press and Ricco Label.
The album has been crafted by mixing lush piano melodies, with an electric sound to colour their quiet world, and vocals that engage the heart and mind of all listeners. Just as Maurice Utrillo was referred to as the "painter of white" in the past, Sontag Shogun draw their unique terrene using a palette of sounds. Once you connect to the tunes of surpassing beauty, you will find that you are removed from the physical world which you have been living.
You'll be able to get Sontag Shogun's 'LTFI' EP and Ricco Label 's music catalogue CD for free if you buy their 'Tale' album CD which will be released on 10 June, on our web store! These are limited in number.
|1. tale||Ian Temple : Piano|
|2. hungarian wheat||Jeremy Young : Reel-to-reel Tapes, Oscillators, Piezo’d objects|
|3. let the flies in||Jesse Perlstein : Laptop, Voice, Field recordings|
|5. ...and here, at the middle, we listen to the man who tunes pianos||Guest Musicians|
|6. orbit insertion||Liam Singer : vocals on Let The Flies In|
|7. beyond wynd gey||Cheryl Kingan : vocals on Let The Flies In|
|8. the musk ox||Jake Chudnow : tea-sipping on Beyond Wynd Gey|
|9. tail||Zebulon : ghost ambience on Tale|
|All tracks composed by Ian Temple, Jeremy Young, Jesse Perlstein|
|All songs recorded and mixed in various locations by Sontag Shogun, 2012/13|
|Vocals on Let The Flies In recorded by Ian Bjornstad in Brooklyn|
|Mastered by James Plotkin, 2013|
|Photo and Illustration by Takahiro Kido|
|Art Direction and Design by Takahiro Kido, Jeremy Young|
|Released by Ricco Label|
|the musk ox||jubokko||Full Performance in Tokyo|
In this post, we update the continuing saga of Sontag Shogun. Part One was the farewell party; Part Two was the EP. Now the band is happily reunited for Part Three: The Album, which was recorded in three separate cities but will be performed together on tour. It’s been fun to trace this arc all the way back to (the) slowest runner (in all the world), and to note that slow is a less accurate term than measured. The band has allowed its fans to be in on the creative process from start to finish, polishing its pieces to a bright sheen.
“Hungarian Wheat” is the prime example, the only selection to appear on the last three releases. In its original incarnation (a live track on Absent Warrior, Abandoned Battlefield) the track was subdued and sedate. On the LTFI EP, it was still calm, but gritty, thanks to reverb and wind. (The irony of the title was that it was more ambient before its subtitle became “(ambient version)”. On Tale, the track grows longer, incorporates dialogue, amplifies the feedback and increases the dynamic contrast. Is this the final version? Certainly not ~ nor should the prospective listener feel that he or she has just heard the same thing three times. As a song in flux, “Hungarian Wheat” is less three versions than three separate tracks, each with its own appeal.
The same holds true for “Musk Oxes”, which has morphed into “Musk Ox”, sidestepping the small error (one ox, two oxen). Two years ago, it was the set closer, a gorgeous piano ballad featuring a balance of major and minor keys. Last year, it became the album’s lead track, thanks to a haunting video (featured in Part II of our Spring Music Preview). The electronics of the second half are still present, but this time out they are thicker and more amplified. At this point, it’s difficult to separate the impact of the video from that of the piece, but our suspicion is that this may be Sontag Shogun’s signature song. Also reworked: “Jubokko” (now two minutes longer, with field recordings, vocal snippets and an additional layer of drone) and “Let the Flies In” (now shorter and without flies).
In retrospect (and as we had hoped), it’s clear that last year’s “Gekheid Op Een Stokje” was a sign of a new direction: a three-dimensional approach to sound material in which numerous textures play off each other like elements in a tale. The more such elements are added, the more literary this music sounds. Such intentions are evident as early as the title track, an overture saturated with static and stolen conversation. Having lived in different cities, the performers have contributed their own sonic souvenirs, from rainforest recordings to street musicians. The most amusing is the sound of a piano tuner stuck right in the center of the album, adjusting the instrument like a trainer tying the laces of an athlete at halftime. The most evocative is the mission control loop of “Orbit Insertion”, which may once have seemed futuristic, but now seems nostalgic. The loops is a reminder not only of the places we’ve gone, but the places we’ve failed to go. As such, it’s a statement on behalf of the band: that their desire is not to rest on their laurels, but to continue to venture into the great beyond.
= Richard Allen / a closer listen
Sontag Shogun is an analog and digital electronics + piano project based in Brooklyn, New York. Their immense debut full-length album, Tale, compiles three years worth of composing and directed textural improvising, molded into nine concise musical statements. They have been experimenting with songform and traversing nostalgic emotional territories, quietly honing their craft alongside collaborators across disciplines such as video, film, dance, performance and poetry.
Primarily making use of a grand piano, field recordings, tapeloops and digitally treated vocals, the trio has discovered a unique niche that straddles identifiable genre boundaries. Repetitions of phrases, digitally glitched-out melodies, superimposing practice takes with studio takes. Call this album modern classical, ambient, new age, Sontag prefers their own nomenclature: lullanoise.
Tale was recorded whilst the three members were living in separate cities (Jesse in Busan & Seoul, Jeremy in London and Ian in Brooklyn); the resulting composite is both by design and by circumstance, a pastiche of aural geography, culture, and the subjective experiences accumulated on their respective sabbaticals.
Sontag is already looking forward into the next phase of the bands existence which will include some short film score composition, a choreographic partnership and recomposing lullanoise for percussion and strings.
FREE DOWNLOAD (mp3/320kbps)
|the musk ox|