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edu comelles

Still Life (Fluid Audio, 2019)


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Still Life is an album about the nature of field recordings and their power to become instruments by itself. Still Life is about re-contextualising fragments, pieces and excerpts of someone else's sound to make it your own. Still Life is about purposing and re-purposing field recordings as musical notes, colours or textures, regardless of their initial intent, purpose or meaning. Is about bringing back to life something fixed and apparently immobile as a mere recording.

Made by hand, Vintage (circa:1880-1950) hardback clothbound books that have been re-assembled into CD covers using luxury binding cloth.

Each copy also includes 20-30 pages of writing held in place with book-binding screws, 25 x luxury A7 prints, Library cards, 3 x finger printed CDs, Vintage book-marks, Stamped / hand numbered / scented. All of the above rests inside stitched / sealed wax bags.

Order a copy at: https://fluidaudio.bigcartel.com/product/edu-comelles-still-life

Credits:

Music written, recorded and produced by Edu Comelles
Mastering by Edu Comelles
Design by Daniel Crossley
Additional art support by Craig Tattersall

Thanks to Sara Galán, Felicia Mar, Francesc Valldecabres and Música Trobada and specially thanks to Isabel Latorre for her kindness and generosity.

This album is dedicated to all musicians which whom I have collaborated and learnt over the years, specially those who kindly allowed me to tinker with their own sounds.

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Packaging / ArtWork:


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Reviews:

Comelles meticulously redesigns and reorders the different sound sources he took to create every track: samples for a small wood kalimba, cello samples, field recordings of a fence being blown by the wind, samples of an early recording of a cathedral organ, rehearsals by a baroque music ensemble, a recording of Portuguese singer Felicia Mar, and the voice of Isabel Latorre.

As different as the origin of all these sources may be, Edu Comelles manages to create a beautifully coherent album and demonstrates that sound art does not necessarily be difficult to listen to. On the contrary: this is definitely one of the most beautiful – and yet adventurous – albums I recently came across.

Still Life is released on the Fluid Audio label, which is good and sad news. Good, because the packaging of physical releases on this label (in this case: 3 ‘finger-printed’ CDR’s) are stunning works of devotion to the art.

Sad, because these releases are always sold out on pre-release immediately. (At time of writing only a few copies are still available from Norman Records). Luckily, Still Life is also available in a digital download version via the Fluid Audio digital sub-label Facture.

Peter Van Cooten. Ambient Blog

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"Still Life" es un trabajo sobresaliente, de esos contados que realmente trascienden en el tiempo... En medio de tanto y a menudo tan anecdótico, qué gusto da poder destacar, y situar en su merecido plano y valor, obras tan brillantes como ésta...

Javier Piñango

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On Still Life, Valencia’s Edu Comelles explores shattered tones and microscopic textures, stitching his jagged pieces of ambient back together and creating something positive out of ruin. Fluid Audio continues to delicately traverse a terrain of fragility and transience, but a wider theme of rebirth encircles Still Life’s thoughtful music; a phoenix of hope after a period of brokenness and desolation.

Sound design requires meticulous detail, and Comelles has always excelled in this area. He’s sensitive to each and every moment, and his bright ambient music bears the fruit of patience. Still Life zooms further in on the microscopic, but he passes through tonal-tributaries with a great amount of tenderness and affection. Broken places are teachers, and Comelles, through these intimate tones, gathers himself and his music, literally picking up the pieces before being able to stand upright, without weakness, in the full light of day once again. Character is forged and then strengthened in moments such as these. Still Life is a place of rest, but not of pause. The music is still moving and the leaves are still swirling; with or without them, life is continuing on. The music’s breathing is another sign of mortal delicacy, and the music takes into account the art style of still life in that its camera zooms in and alights on the beautiful in closer detail.

The growing distortion of ‘Lament’ doesn’t break up the delicate feeling, although things are close to snapping. Crackles around the edge hint at some kind of acidic breakdown, a rapid dissolving, but growth can only proceed from erosion and begin from an ending; the soil is the birthplace of a future flower. In some ways, Still Life takes a philosophical and spiritual approach. Its drones are long sustains, forever thoughtful and forever faithful, but still imbued with tonal weakness. In fact, this weakness becomes its strength. ‘This Winter Sun’ is a prime example of fragility, as its weak light does nothing to dispel the February frost. As part of the packaging, old antique books were taken apart and reassembled to make something beautiful, mirroring the music’s desire to rise once again. Still Life is placed on display for all to experience.


It’s hard to tell whether Still Life is pulling itself apart or bringing itself together. The album is partly a magnet the worn and estranged – sounds that carry the impression of having trekked 15 miles to arrive here, tattered and glitched, slumping down upon shaking knees – but also an environment of coherence and ecological dialogue. Even though these recordings clearly originate from an array of different times, places and fidelities, they converse on Still Life as if they were biologically programmed to do just that; somehow aligned in their melodic direction, flocked into a slow-motion murmuration without even thinking about it. Consciously they are strangers to each other, but on a deeper level of awareness they communicate with the profundity of family.

Often there’s the sense of cyclical causation running between these elements, with each sound abetting the gentle movements of those around it. On “Winter Sun” (the title of which leaves my mental images in no ambiguity), droplets of piano stimulate the spiky growth of electronics, which in turn glow under rays of ambient sunlight. Opener “Of Course, But Maybe” hinges on a clicking bicycle wheel that spins synthesisers through sparkling arpeggiations, like a mill blade churning up the water. In fact, all of the pieces carry the sense of barely-bristling life – landscapes in which only the very edges shiver with slight signs of movement, otherwise loitering in fragile stillness. Are the inhabitants imminently due to return, or have they only just departed? The bleak melodic progression of “Lament”, with its scorched guitars and frostbitten electronic waves, seems even to imply an apocalyptic root cause to the emptiness of these landscapes. Suddenly this meld of brokenness and unity adopts a new significance: these tracks are disaster zones as captured in the aftermath, both connected and obliterated by the fire.

Jack Chuter. ATTN: Magazine.

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In selecting Still Life as the title for this recent Fluid Audio release, sound artist Edu Comelles draws attention to its oxymoronic character. After all, no living organism is ever still, and even something as seemingly fixed as a vinyl album lives in a sense, given its imperceptible alteration over time, not to mention the limitless range of sound details embedded within its grooves. On this release, he explores the concept in a number of different ways, by exploring the degree to which field recordings can act as musical material and by re-contextualising material created by another to produce something new. In keeping with the theme, the packaging for the release involved the taking apart of old antique books and reassembling them, the visual approach mirroring the re-purposing of musical elements.

The Valencia, Spain-based Comelles brings impressive credentials to the project. Operating in the fields of new media and sound design, he's performed and exhibited at a remarkable number of venues, festivals, and galleries in Spain, Mexico, and Europe. He holds a PhD in sound art and is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh, the Polytechnic University of Valencia, and the University of Barcelona, and his discography includes soundtracks, solo albums, collaborations, remixes, and compilation appearances.

He uses field recordings and samples throughout but never as mere accoutrements. They're meticulously woven into the fifty-minute release's seven settings, with acoustic instruments such as cello, piano, and accordion adding considerably to the impact. Some pieces indicate a pronounced electronic emphasis, the presence of field recordings and acoustic instrumentation notwithstanding. Fragile organ glisten and guitar-like distortion dominate the opening “Of Course, But Maybe,” for example, even though samples of a small wood kalimba figured into the production. In many a case, one's awareness of the elements used for a track's creation takes a back seat to a focus on the total sound design and the impression left by it. In other pieces, an instrument becomes the nucleus around which other elements gather. While field recordings establish a curdling sense of mystery in the title track, for instance, it's the samples of Sara Galán's cello that give the piece its defining character.

During the fragile meditation “This Winter Sun,” the minimal tinkle of Isabel Latorre's piano blends with Comelles' softly murmuring synth flutter and field recordings of Alpen cowbells and chirping birds. On a recording that sustains its high level from start to finish, “The Sweet Hereafter” stands out for the beautiful timbres Latorre's accordion adds to an arrangement otherwise distinguished by samples of the organ at Logroño Cathedral. The slow-burn of the drone the elements collectively generate makes for an album high point, especially when the setting's quieter second half allows the accordion's capacity for conveying emotion to be amplified. Arresting too is “Lament” where electric bass by Latorre anchors the glacial drift of crackle-smeared samples of harpsichord, violins, and countertenor voice by the Música Trobada Ensemble of Baroque Music. The piece surprises also in being so raw, the bass in places calling to mind the blunt roar of John Wetton's in King Crimson. A haunting interlude appears in the form of “A Lisbon Story,” which features the glorious voice of Portuguese singer Felicia Mar captured at Mãe d'Água during the Lisboa Soa Festival.

Still Life is slow-moving but no less satisfying or engaging for being so; if anything, the unhurried pace at which it advances allows for an optimal appreciation of its sound design and construction. Comelles shows himself repeatedly to be a sound designer sensitive to texture, gesture, and nuance, making for a rich and highly detailed presentation. Much like the painted still life, the settings hold up under close scrutiny, their subtleties ever more evident the greater the attention given to them.

Textura.org