2010 Ten Favourite Labels
Liam Singer

Keith Canisius
Cursor Miner
Dark Party
Ex-Wise Heads
Forever Delayed
The Fun Years
Dirk Geiger
The Green Kingdom
Chihei Hatakeyama
Robin Holcomb
The Inventors of Aircraft
Peter Jørgensen
My Dry Wet Mess
Silje Nes
Sharp & Whetham
Liam Singer
Erik K Skodvin
Sarah Kirkland Snider
Squares On Both Sides
David Sylvian
Taiga II
Francesco Tristano
RJ Valeo

Compilations / Mixes
Buzz.RO! 2010
Crónica L
Timo Maas
Movement Torino Festival
Sebastian Mullaert

Dday One / Glen Porter
Depth Affect
The Gentleman Losers
Piece of Shh…
Teebs & Jackhigh
thisquietarmy + yellow6
Tom White

Strië: Sléptis
Soundscaping Records

For a debut album, Sléptis is a remarkably assured and acomplished piece of work. It's the brainchild of one-time actress, cellist, and now electronic sound-sculptor Iden Reinhart operating under the alias Strië. Her music's mysterious qualities are amplified by the fuzzy autobiographical details that are available: currently living in an elegant, secluded mansion in the countryside of an undisclosed Central European town, Reinhart performed in several quartets before withdrawing from the spotlight and into the comfortable womb of her abode where her evocative compositions would be able to fully flower. Cinematic is the key word here, as the prototypical Strië composition draws upon a rich library of acoustic and electronic sounds in the conjuring of a gothic and doom-laden universe. Throughout the hour-long collection, Strië sprinkles jazz-related elements (piano, acoustic bass, trumpet, drums), voice samples, and anguished vocal fragments across heavily treated and textured foundations.

Like some feverish dream, a disturbing array of sounds converges during the portentous “Alone in the Crowd.” Piano and bass motifs repeat within a sprawling field of percussive flourishes, until an acoustic bass and ride cymbal accents enter to nudge the material away from the nightmare and into the dark back room of a smoky jazz club. Nightmarish too are “Fading Away,” where bits of piano, voice, cello, and (what sounds like) zither eventually gravitate into electronica territory with the inclusion of corroded breakbeats, and “Hiding in the Wardrobe,” which cultivates an aura of gloom when Strië juxtaposes orchestral strings with whispered voices and percussive clicks, creaks, and rustles. The album's culmination arrives in the closing track, “Subtraction,” where a gradual accumulation of sounds—piano, glitches, strings, percussion, voice—builds tension during the piece's movement away from the darkness that has shrouded so much of the album and towards light. Almost immediately thereafter, an untitled hidden track initially jars by presenting a less experimental episode of small jazz combo playing until the album's by-now familiar design re-asserts itself and the playing is smothered by layers of disorienting haze and colour.

Strië has described the album's developmental process as one in which its sounds declared themselves rather than as one involving her shoehorning them into pre-set structures. It's an astute characterization, as Sléptis's tracks do indeed seem to unfold according to their own idiosyncratic natures and with skewed and enigmatic but not irrational logic. Listening to ther album, the listener develops the impression that in pursuing the creative path that resulted in the final work, Reinhart surrendered herself to a trance-like state at the outset and remained there until Sléptis was completed.

November 2010