We are so happy that our final release of the year will be with New York’s Sontag Shogun, alongside one of our favourite Japanese artists, Moskitoo. The 7" vinyl is being printed by Sontag Shogun in the States and will be exclusively available through Home Normal, as well as through Sontag Shogun on tour.
Arvo Pärt once noted quite simply that 'music says what I need to say’. If this were ever true of a release on Home Normal, this would surely be the perfect example. In its short (just over ten minute) life, ‘The Things We Let Fall Apart / Thunderswan’ is imbued with a tender and affecting minimalism; a delicately soulful simplicity that encompasses so much despite its brevity. Truly great music appears effortless, as if it has always existed on some other plain far from earthly eyes, only appearing in focus suddenly for all to see (or hear) as plates move into a certain alignment. For a fleeting moment it stays before drifting away again to some other place, and all that we are left with is the lingering memories of something so pure we once knew. That’s exactly how this simple other-worldly work by Sontag Shogun and moskitoo makes me feel when I listen to it, and for a long time after.
Here’s a little bit of background behind the recordings by Jeremy from Sontag Shogun:
Both of these tracks were recorded after returning from Japan in 2015, when we met Sanae after our Tokyo gig with minamo. There was never a set plan in place to collaborate, but being mutual fans of each other's music there was always a spark, waiting to be ignited. Having been a huge fan of Moskitoo's albums on 12k, we had in mind to try to create some material that felt more "live", rather than the glitchy, digital sonic world her solo work lives inside. Despite how pretty and evocative Moskitoo's music is, we wanted this to feel like a living room salon, by lamplight, damp leaves pressing against the windows. This is pretty barebones Sontag, and with the addition of Moskitoo's soft, whispering voice in the mix, the result feels just as contemplative and wistful as ever.
"The Things We Let Fall Apart" actually used to be called "Unfinished Idea 021," and came out of a few recording and improvisational sessions that resulted in handfuls of untitled, unfinished miniatures. The drone was created from a looped and isolated fragment of a chord played on the grand piano. An initial version of the piece had a glitching beat created from chopped, grain synthesized bits of radio static, but we dropped it after sending the arhythmic version to Moskitoo and hearing the subtle, delicate vocal footprints she left along the track. It felt right to leave it more open-ended, slightly on the empty side, and more contemplative. So with the change in pace, and sentiment, came the change in title.
As for "The Thunderswan," this piece is about a girl who doesn't belong in the town she's from. She wanders through tall reeds at night to a dark lake where she finds families of ducks and geese. She knows she doesn't belong here either, but they take her in, give her swan's wings, and teach her to fly. Eventually one night, she takes flight and leaves the lake, soaring over it, over the lights of the town, looking down on these places that mean nothing to her, and she gets stuck in a thunderstorm. She battles through some rains and wind, and decides to elevate herself to above the clouds, she breaks through the thick clouds, following the ever-brightening glow of the moon to find clear night skies. Below her are the tops of clouds, above her only stars, she's more alone here and now than she's ever been and starts to doubt that she'll ever find her true home. Just then, in an instant, from behind her and circling all around her, come 200 other boys and girls, flapping their giant swan's wings and gliding through the night air together. She's made it. She's home at last.
Vocals by Moskitoo
Piano by Ian Temple
Field recordings, treated vocals, electronic processing by Jesse Perlstein
Tapes, oscillators, electronics by Jeremy Young
Mixed by Scott Solter
Mastered by Lawrence English
Sculpture by Stephen Somple
© 2017 Sontag Shogun / Moskitoo
'Sontag Shogun本来のサウンドよりも、余計な装飾を削ぎ落した印象の美しいトラックにMoskitooによる可憐なウィスパーヴォイスがミックスされたすばらしいコラボレーション。' P*Dis
'Lush, epic and uplifting...totally recommended' Drifting, Almost Falling
'An utterly affectionate and adorable aural apparition, ‘the things we let fall apart’ emerging frosted and fragile, delicately sculptured in thawing ice tones, the symphonics delicately shy eyed and whispered are breathlessly beguiled by a graceful neo classical hush, the effect really is entrancing as it is teasingly brief, sitting somewhere between a very youthful Mum and Smile Down Upon Us. ‘thunderswan’ over on the flip is expressed with the kind of poise and musical poetry that shimmers and twinkles to those early post YMO outings from Ryuichi Sakamoto, its minimal toning sweetly gathering to blossom into caressing cinematic crushes dappled in surrendering sepia hazes, a most exquisite and rarefied thing of bewitching beauty.'The Sunday Experience (Mark Losing Today)
'Sontag Shogun and + moskitoo craft small and cherished sculptures throughout “The Things We Let Fall Apart/The Thunderswan”. Little moments go a long way, for the hushed reverence the two pieces explore allow for the tiny flourishes to become magnified...allowing the two pieces to work together, to climb great peaks and become things of true majesty.' Beach Sloth
'ポーランドはワルシャワ在住のイギリス人、Ian Hawgoodが主宰する『Home Normal』レーベルより、NYのアンビエント・トリオ“Sontag Shogun”と東京在住の女性アーティスト“Moskitoo”ことヤマサキ・サナエによるコラボ作が7インチでリリース！
2015年におこなわれたSontag Shogunの来日ツアー時に出会い、やがてコラボレーションに発展。ノスタルジックなピアノにエレクトロニスのテクスチャーを加えたSontag Shogun本来のサウンドよりも、余計な装飾を削ぎ落した印象の美しいトラックにMoskitooによる可憐なウィスパー・ヴォイスがミックスされた素晴らしいコラボレーション作！' Lykkelig
'Gentle electroacoustic ambient numbers...an elegantly-woven texture of easy listening.' Norman Records
'美しいピアノが映えるデリケートなアンビエント〜エレクトロニック・サウンドと、浮遊感のあるサウンド共に優しく漂うMoskitooの儚いウィスパー・ヴォーカルによる、ドリーミーなアンビエント・ポップ〜エクスペリメンタル・ポップ。サウンドとヴォーカルのお互いの華麗さがミックスされたコラボレーション作品となっています。' Linus Records
'Sontag Shogunのアコースティックピアノを基盤とした美しく壮大なサウンドと、Moskitooの柔らかく儚げなヴォーカルが産み出す極上の2曲。' Rodentia Collective
'It is all about the creation of two beautiful ambient pop songs and should Lynch consider another Twin Peaks serial, he could use ‘The Thunderswan’ and who knows, catapult this lovely little record in an alternative top 10; that of best Twin Peaks songs.' Vital Weekly
'The two outputs on the tracks of this vinyl could be matched to fabulous parallel worlds, due to the musical outfit that New York-based trio Sontag Shogun sewed for the enchanting voice by sound designer and vocalist Sanae Yamasaki, better known as Moskitoo.' Chain D.L.K.
'Fans of Jonsi’s most ambient work will love the wide-eyed, child-like wonder encompassed in this track. Makes me think of roaming through a wide, bright valley up between two mountains.' Independent Clauses
'Douceur du dimanche avec le très beau deux titres des Américains de Sontag Shogun et de la Japonaise moskitoo.' Totoromoon