22.12.08

faraway press . part one

A three part post documenting the Faraway Press label releases.

How can I possibly begin to describe the work of Andrew Chalk? To me the task is equivalent to that of describing how mother's intuition works, or explaining the phenomena of deja-vu, or attempting to unlock the mystery of how the Egyptian pyramids were built. I can't promise that I'll do the man justice but I feel as though he at least deserves the recognition. The mysterious and brilliant Chalk has been making music since the early 80's, who has-in his nearly 30 years of playing the game-managed to craft some of the most elegant and timeless drone music I have heard to date. Before Chalk even started releasing his work through his Faraway Press label he was involved in a handful of impressive collaborative projects: Mirror, Ora, and Isolde, to name a few. He also just released a previously unavailable album of his now defunct Ferial Confine project. A stunning arrangement of bowed metal and junk craft. check it out on my highlights of 2008 post...and here are some other useful resources... brainwashed, Discogs.

I vividly remember my first experience with Chalk's music. It was over a year and a half ago. I was lying in bed with Vega in the disc man under flickering candle light in my old womb coloured bunker hole. I remember holding Chalk's signature textured cardboard packaging between my finger tips. Packaging that I would slowly become accustomed to but still to this day marvel at. At the time my naivety disallowed any possibility of an immersing experience. I simply wasn't ready for it. I put the album aside and it gathered dust for months. Now I think of that experience as a glimpse into my present state, as if that night was only meant to act as a guide for assurance of future experience. I think in my mind I was aware of the potency of the album but maybe felt as though I had to work my way up to it. And of course I eventually dusted it off and listened to it incessantly before pursuing the rest of the faraway press catalog, which, I have just now completed (except for the extremely limited run cd-rs). On with it...


Andrew Chalk "Shadows from the Album Skies"
cd, cd-r FP01

Ethereal yet ominous, Shadows from the Album Skies plays like the Apocalypse in slow motion. But it isn't the real world that's ending, it's the one in your head where you play God and can re-build the ruins in a fraction of a second. This is the perfect album for destroying and re-building your imaginary world. Originally the two tracks of Shadows were released separately as Shadows I and II in limited run cdr format on the Three Poplars label.


Andrew Chalk "The River that Flows into the Sands"
cd, cd-r FP02

The River that Flows into the Sands. The most recent puzzle piece in my Chalk collection, so it's what I've been obsessing over lately as far as FP stuff goes. I never really figured out how Chalk actually produces the sounds he gets. I think it's one of these things that is better left a mystery, so I try not to think about it too much. It's simpler to just get lost in the void he creates. He's definitely delved into effect laden guitar and piano but that alone is only my vague attempt at the truth. In any case, another hypnotic journey through murky depths and clouds of the nimbostratus type.


Andrew Chalk "Vega"
cd-r, cd FP03

First introduction to Chalk's music. Cave dwelling guitar drones emanate from underwater speakers and reverberate through kilometers of intricate and endless catacombs before reaching your ears. Pay particular attention to the subtle change at about the 11 minute mark of the first track, where a white light emerges from the darkness and swallows the music whole for the duration.


Ghosts on Water "Senshu" (Andrew Chalk and Daisuke Suzuki)
cd FP04

The first song is enough to make this release essential. Chalk has done a few collabs with Suzuki and the two make a good team smearing and intertwining their contributed sounds forming gauzy movements of hypnotic guitar, distant vocals and way below the surface field recordings. Really nice in packaging and sound. I managed to snag the limited gate fold edition. Well worth it.

5 comments:

Mark E. Rich said...

Good lordy! Amazing few posts here. I gots to get my hands on some of this stuff here. Looks like Forced Exposure might even have most of these available right now. Where did you cop most of these?

I totally agree that Chalk is and has been totally overlooked...and unjustly so, too! Maybe this post will bring him to the attention of others. Hopefully he doesn't try to get you to take all this stuff down.

a d r i a n said...

Mark,
I emailed Chalk awhile ago asking him if it was OK to throw up some downloads of his albums. He seemed to be Ok with it mainly because everyone was doing it anyway. I don't think he realized that I was going to make his whole label available, but when it comes to this sort of thing I refuse to go at it half-assed. Everyone has a different opinion about this and that's really why it's so controversial. I think that music should be available, no matter what. My reasoning for that...well maybe i'll save that for it's own post. In any regard, I hope that this encourages people to buy the faraway press stuff.

As far as where I got it, I've been able to piece it all together by way of Aquarius, Helen Scarsdale, Discogs Market place and through Chalk himself. Try Discogs to start maybe (might be able to find some deals) Don't know about Forced but I bet you're on to something.

Anyways, thanks for the comment and enjoy the sounds.

b.neptune said...

Adrian,

Just curious about the quality of these Faraway Press uploads. I've only purchased Goldfall and Time of Hayfield. Are they all M4A @ 128 kbps? I'm not too familiar with the M4A (AAC?) format, so I was wondering if you could comment back. I'd like to own all of these, and right now it's not financially possible. Wondering if you thought the quality of your uploads are worth the time to download. I'm sure you'll say yes, but, is it the equivalent to an MP3 at 192kbps or higher?

On a side note - concerning your other post from December "thoughts on downloading" - I worked in music retail for 20 years, owning my own record store for 10 until it just wasn't feasible anymore, and I feel pretty much the same way as you do. I've got my own blog, and I love to share music with friends, and other people with likeminded music tastes. Expanding on your idea, I feel like if I'm able to download something, and even if I don't necessarily end up buying it, if it's something I like, I'm still gonna tell at least a dozen people about it, and who knows, maybe they end up buying it. Unfortunately right now, everybody's a little strapped financially, so, every industry is getting hit.

Keep up the good work, I just found your blog over the weekend (Mar. 14, 2009). I got turned onto Chalk's stuff some time ago, but didn't buy anything until last year when Forced Exposure had some of these reissues. Get back with me if you can about the quality of these downloads.

thx,

a d r i a n said...

B.
Thanks for getting in touch. To start, yes I think that it is all worth downloading. As far as the format goes, I have deduced that at lower bit rates (128kbps) the m4a is much clearer than mp3 but as you go higher the line sort of blurs between the two. I believe that all of the Faraway Press stuff is in m4a. To tell you the truth, I don't pay much attention to this stuff as all this formatting business is somewhat boring and confusing. I never listen to music digitally anyway so I am not overly concerned. I also believe that my downloads should only act as a temporary bridge between discovering the artist and owning the physical copies of their work. In any case, I don't think that you will notice much difference in quality of m4as played at 192 than mp3s played at the same. That's all I can give you, sorry if it isn't helpful.

Thanks for the kind words and I hope you will listen to as much of the stuff as possible an eventually acquire as much as possible.

-a

a d r i a n said...

B.
I almost forgot. I am going to throw all the Faraway Press stuff into zip folders so that it's much less of a hassle for you and other grabbers to dl. I'll do that either today or tomorrow, so it's probably beneficial for you to wait.
-a