Posts Tagged Divinations

Divinations – Album Review and Radio Feature

Album cover: Divinations by eyes cast down

Design by Greg M, Photos by Greg M & Dasi.

Much gratitude to John Shanahan (Hypnagogue) for his enthusiastic review of my Divinations album, and to Brian at Our Place Radio for featuring the album on Feb. 25. Reaching such kindred spirits makes releasing the music all the more rewarding!

John says:

eyes cast down speaks in a quietly assured voice on Divinations, a suite of five pieces designed to be used for “inner work, healing and relaxation.” It’s something of a self-compilation, the first four tracks having previously appeared on multi-artist albums on the Free Floating netlabel and the last a recording of a live set composer Greg Moorcroft performed in 2012 and augmented in post-production in 2014. They come together here in a very pleasant, seamless and utterly relaxing flow. There’s no need to turn down the volume; Moorcroft’s pieces are naturally quiet, patiently carved in long, hushed pads and drones. His gossamer layers sit lightly atop one another, and even his most complex mixes of sound or percolations of texture land as more than a calm ripple. Which is wonderful. “Exquisite Divination of Patterns” sets the overall tone straight away with slowly circling ambient whispers, lightly Dopplered and paired against gentle keyboard notes. Moorcroft notes that this track marks his first use of soft synths. You’d never know, and you wouldn’t care; it’s enough to get carried off by the current of sound. And once you’re in it, you’ll stay there for the full voyage. Through the soft surroundings of “Crystalline” and on into “Radiant Perception.” This is where Moorcroft gets his “loudest” and the sound reaches its most active point. The sound here pulses, sounding a bit like a bowed instrument in spots. It’s got an interesting, almost hollow metallic edge and truly asserts itself over the meandering washes beneath it. Moorcroft goes heavy on the layers here, and the effect is nicely hypnotic. Acoustic guitar takes the forefront on “Snowdance in Starlight.” Moorcroft uses the instrument’s resonance beautifully, hitting hard, Hedges-reminiscent bass notes and letting them ring. Again, the layers here build, bringing the sustain and echo of the guitar into a constantly shifting background wash. “Ensō” is the live piece, nearly half an hour of complete immersion. Moorcroft laces in some bird sounds and prayer chant to further deepen the flow. On the chants, his voice is just a touch raspy–in a good way–and intimately close to the mic. It has the feel of ceremony, and the comparative coarseness of the voice contrasts the softness of everything else. A great way to spend half an hour.

I have been listening to Divinations quietly throughout several full work days, and left it looping in the Hypnagogue office. While I do recommend breaking out the headphones to get all the detail work, this album truly excels as an atmosphere enhancer. Whether you use it during your mediation or yoga or just letting it tint the air as you go about your daily routine, this is a release you’ll come back to. Absolutely worth listening to. Excellent work from eyes cast down.

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eyes cast down Interview by Headphonaught

Many thanks to Thomas Mathie for posting this interview and for his nice support! The original post is here.

Thomas, aka Headphonaught, is a music lover, artist and designer, and keeper of the We Are All Ghosts netlabel, the Circumambient podcast and the Nanolog blog. Don’t miss his interview with my colleague Scott Lawlor.

Seven questions with … Greg Moorcroft aka eyes cast down

There is something wonderfully spiritual about some forms of ambient music … I find these forms reach into my soul like no other music. The music may be created to be spiritual and then again it may not … but, due to its very nature, it is possible to project a spirituality onto it whether it be the deeply meditative of certain longform drones or the wildly joyful of more upbeat, trancey sounds … this is my ‘worship’ music now.

One proponent of this form of ambient music is musician Greg Moorcroft aka eyes cast down. His contributions to the Free Floating winter compilations all|is|calm are exceptional. I have recently obtained a promo copy of his latest album – Divinations – and look forward to digging into that.

As is my way, I asked Moorcroft if he’d be interested in answering a few questions for this ol’ blog. I’m delighted to say he agreed.

———-

1) Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Greg Moorcroft. I use the artist name eyes cast down. I am a composer, musician, recording artist and live performer. I work primarily – though not exclusively – in the ambient-atmospheric world.

2) What are you working on at the moment?
I’ve just released Album #2, Divinations, on my Kalindi Music label. Album #3, Pastimes of Creation, is very nearly finished, so that’s the priority now.

3) Who inspires you?
– Name an artist who has inspired you.
My main man is Steve Roach, whom I hugely enjoyed interviewing three years ago. His music provides an endlessly-deep well of inspiration.

– Name a place that has inspired you.
I love getting out into nature. The most inspiring place I’ve been to is Cranberry Lake Park in upstate New York, on a camping holiday.

– Name some “thing” that has inspired you.
Drumming. I go to a monthly group, which is tons of fun. I really should take my portable recorder next time, because some good grooves often magically appear.

4) What drives you to do what you do?
The word “drive” says it all. I have to make music. I don’t have any choice about it; it’s in my bones. I love it. I would do it for myself alone, if I had to, but being able to share it is better.

5) What values do you wish your creativity to express?
True spirituality, which requires humility; love, which can grow only from that point; the courage to undergo necessary introspection; and a delight in the amazing power of Creation, of which I aspire to be a medium.

6) What role does community play in what you do?
In this sense, “community” means “kindred spirits” who value the music as I do – as critically important, as soul-shaking, ritual, deepcore magic. It’s fantastic that such a community exists; for me, its hub is the Relaxed Machinery community.


7) What is next for what you do?
The next project is either: begin recording Album #5 (which is entirely written), or finish writing Album #6 (which is half written). After those are both recorded, I think it will be time for the Concerto for Ambient Orchestra project. That is going to be … something other.

———-

Thanks Greg.

The first four tracks of Divinations were all released on Free Floating netlabel – Conceptionall|is|calm 2011all|is|calm 2013, and all|is|calm 2012 – with the final piece, Ensō (a live laptop/softsynth improvisation with Avian and human voices added during postproduction in May 2014) originating from an art show in May 2012.

I’m glad to have all these tracks in one place and recommend you check out the album: Divinations.

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Mishima (Divinations, #5 of 5)

Yukio Mishima with poster for his film Yukoku (Patriotism)

We end this cycle the way we began, with a fascinating but tortured personality. From my first reading of John Nathan’s biography of Yukio Mishima, the legendary Japanese writer haunted me for years. I read over a dozen of his novels in translation including, of course, the fabled Sea of Tranquility quartet (he really should have won the Nobel for that) and the idyllic Sound of Waves.

Mishima’s impact on me echoed for some time, even after I wrestled with him by writing this piece. But in a way, the circle had finally closed by the time my favorite band, Jack or Jive, released their 2008 album Kakugo, which includes an updated version of the first song from their first album. That song, Worry About the Country, features a portion of Mishima’s dramatic pre-suicide speech to a captive audience of Japanese soldiers.

Mishima

Defiance lash electric
Nova crash this bubbling sunless sky
Crack the dull shimmering backdrop
  of complacent denied history

I crush in my charged hands
  the calm deceitful mask
Dust for placid choking civility
Finger my sharp man’s teeth
Now I must resolve you –
  settle this dissonance

Yukio Mishima in his study, probably mid-1950sYou rolled the mirror –
  made a microscope
Turned upon yourself like a blade
Self-fashioned, tradition’s martyr
Slave to destiny embraced too easily
Stinking illogic of waste

You dug but rooted not
  the heart of sorrow
No, you had to have your emperor
Your confessions were all
  bloody Grand Kabuki masques

I saw a midget black cloud
  racing raging smash its form
    on a giant, immovable, massive –
      and lose integrity

Your protest exploded sharp the night
Howling Sun’s eclipse
Final blinding dying lines lashing out

Your reaction thundered through
  exquisite gardens
    magical pavilions
      delicate banquets
        thrashing waves
Swept over that terrible, final
  sunlit sterile hill

You pulled a swift curtain
Jumped from grace with the sea
  headlong to sink and drown
Had it to be
  such trouble to float?

Yukio Mishima making his final speechWhy not harbor still mobile life?
Daring see more
  what might you say?
Your life a brief brilliant flurry
  echoing after images lost
    seared by memory denied yourself

What murk of mine reflects yours –
  filling to flow over?
What fascinates me,
  strange haunting man?
A warning empty death awaits
Aching truth of action void
  divorced from healing self

Finally the storm clears
  into cool still light
    leaving gifts we may appreciate
      in or out of time

Life comes a flash, subsides
What did you find
  as you made your mark
    on the world of words?
      – on your smooth, rippling belly?

Son of Steel, gave no shape to anger
  but bowed before it invisible
I must work a resolution
  short of death
Be no Sensei of mine

(July/95)

Kinkakuji (Temple of the Golden Pavilion), Kyoto, Japan

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