grantham, Britain (UK)
The field of guitar atmospherics, of treated tones and delay-drizzled drones, has become increasingly populous.There’s a lineage here traceable from Frip&Eno's early 70s proto-ambience through Durutti's echoplex-doodlings to MBV's shoegaze-haze at either end of the 80s. But it's the Kranky clan whose legacy has most fuelled the current crop, among whom find mwvm. Rotations, the debut full-length from mwvm, County Durham-based guitar manipulator Michael Walton, adds itself to the recent build-up of releases from relative tyros like Chris Herbert, Apalusa and Gareth Hardwick. Artists like these evidence a thriving UK drone-ambient scene to rival that of our transatlantic brethren the Stars of the Lid, the Windy & Carl and other Kranky types.
"Context. Where?” opens in downbeat post-rock progressions laced with blithe, almost pastoral backwoods slide/pedal steel, before withdrawing to a pensive “Fireside” - a series of upswells from and fall-aways into tremulous space. "It's easy to be miserable" shifts sonic paradigm to more ominous drone territory, touching the void evoked by deeper ambient-spacers like Robert Rich or the post-industrialisms of Malingnant and Cyclic Law, summoning up a mighty racket before it’s sucked into a vacuum. "Negative Pole" crawls out from inky depths, arcing towards light in the same kind of languorous balletics as SOTL (hello, again). The soundfield fizzes with the fuzz’n’buzz of electrified steel vibrations, layers of shimmering metallics and tremeloed organ-like sustain cycling across tracks like "Celestial Motions". Evidently mwvm, like his keynote influence, is made happy by tape hiss or rather its simulacra - electronic static and tuned air, which pervades these tableaux. The title track hoves into view with the clearest of nods to early Kranky, further embellished by some keening Polmo Polpo-esque lap steel. The epic "Oratory Clout" spools out a stately theme that betrays its origins as the love child of early Pan American and GY!BE Walton summoning mounting waves of glacial breakers to wash over chilly hibernal tundras, while “Sleepy Crayfish” – with nice use of discreet field recordings – gazes beatifically once more at those Stars. "Windows" is an effective contrast to the preceding more elaborated arrangements, exploring the timbral aspects of decay and delay vapour trails, accentuating the zinging resonance of a single tone’s aperture and closure through effects and exponential reverberation. There's a certain unself-conscious compositional craft at work here that allows pieces to breathe as if in meditative mode (though not precluding the triumphal swell or the odd grandiose upsurge), whilst insisting they not sprawl into dronal endlessnessism. Case in point the gorgeous lyrical ebb and flow of "Never Constant" - barely 3 minutes of such sad-happy winsomeness you forget its thralldom to forebears - just folding you in to float with its lulling layers of lilt. A perfect near-happy ending without being inauthentic to the affective parameters of the set's moody-eerie wistful-melancholic clines.
In terms of experimentalism, mwvm is a less Out-There operator than other celebrated guitar-toting drone-basers like Fennesz, Oren Ambarchi and Machinefabriek. These wilder frontiersmen tend to allow the listener the sugar-rush of romanticist dynamics (ebb-flow, surge-relent) only as coating to a pill of post-digital detritus and aleatory abrasivity, making it a spiky sweet to swallow. In contrast, Rotations,for all its alterations of sonorous state, has an appealing fidelity, cleaving to the sounding essence of electric guitar qua guitar, while still remaining open to the accidental harmonics and timbre-blurring arising from the felicitous encounter between fret-and-fingerboard, effect-mediated amplification, and post-performance recording archaeology.
Rotations is British, Durham based guitarist Michael Walton's first album, and it's a thing of beauty for sure. Superficially just another set of post-Frippertronics Ambient drift, Rotations only occasionally gets bogged down in a New age mire, which is a rarity in this field. Walton is comfortable letting his infinitely layered drones clash timbrally and tonally, resulting in some tensely ambiguous passages. The bulk of the album is certainly pastoral, and the slide guitar embellishments strongly recall Eno's slightly sickly Apollo, but there's a caustic tang to Mwvm's sound that cuts through the dreaminess. Walton's work is ever static: as its various strata shift in and out of phase, new patterns emerge and new harmonic information is magically conjured.
Rotations, the debut album of British guitarist Michael Walton,comes in the wake of a number of similar releases from other British guitarists. While MWVM doesn't necessarily stand out as particularly special in the bunch, Rotations is a commendable release, outstandingly pretty, if not especially remarkable in its sound or process, and avoids some traps of more contemporary ambient music. The attention to detail is superb for the most part, and much of the release retains a healthy focus on a balance between the mechanical and the organic.
It seems apt that a track by MWVM was added to a compilation by Australian label Dreamland Recordings, this vein of experimental and ornamental guitar does evoke more Australian names than others, Shoeb Ahmad's recent work for Gareth Hardwick's Low Point label, in particular, coming to mind. Rotations continues in the Dreamland vein, producing an exploratory suite of ambient works that are texturally dense without being overwhelming, and adapt well to post-Eno ambient soundscapes without appearing too unoriginal in approach.
Rather than attempting to provide a direction, MWVM's Rotations merely suggests, as if staying in the same place for the entire time. In a sense the opening track, "Context, Where?" is a less than apt title for Michael Walton's approach, especially considering the kind of thematic linking in of material throughout the piece, common progressions throughout. Such a grounding seems to be less stagnation than a foundation that is often missing, or relied on too heavily by other ambient guitarists. That said, Rotations, at its heart, is a meandering ambient muse. While this isn't necessarily a setback, the release cannot avoid suffering the fate of many similar artists, the listening experience hampered. On occasion, some tracks suffer from a hollowness, a lack of an exploration outside one framework, but for the most part, Rotations avoids this, particularly when Walton is more revealing of the original guitar sound, acting in a similar vein to Gareth Hardwick's Sunday Afternoon lap steel release.
Rotations' fairly well executed use of drone harmonics adds the kind of pitch-timbre blurring that is often associated with more drone-based experimental guitarists such as Oren Ambarchi, or even more aptly, French spectral composers Gerard Grisey and Tristan Murail. Indeed, the more naked of Walton's approaches in representing the guitar sound mirrors the kind of organic analysis of the harmonic series that is usually obtained by musicians working in a far less processing-based framework. In this way, Walton can be commended for the way the overall sound on Rotations retains a human quality, vastly increasing how listenable it is.
While not providing a particularly new take on experimental ambient guitar-based music, Rotations is a decidedly pleasant listening experience. Much of the release is steeped in the kind of ambient guitar music that has been common of late, particularly in Britain, but retains enough of a voice to make MWVM capable of standing with clarity within this framework without descending too far into its own washes of ambience. 7/10
The Silent Ballet
Switching gears, we run into mwvm, which is actually British-native Michael Walton. On his proper debut "Rotations", the guitarist goes knee-deep into guitar wave manipulations of the most tranquil kind. Some may mistakenly label this ambient music [it's quiet and audaciously still], but Walton ensures there is plenty of variety in the ten tracks present on the record. Layered meshes of guitar fuzzing is interspersed with the rise and fall repetition of delay pedals. Textures are key to Walton's music as every single piece is centered around those. Surprisingly enough, though the sounds are quite minimal in nature, there is an unspoken warmth that is apparent from beginning to end, welcoming the listener in for a repeat helping. Highly satisfying and very essential to those madly in love with unspoken possibilities of composed sound.
mwvm is a solo project form British guitarist/electronic musician Michael Walton. Rotations is his debut CD. Throughout the album Walton takes basic themes and gradually builds on them, exploring all their possibilities. Multiple guitar elements, both crisply melodic and soundscape ambient, come together to create mood building voyages that are like sonic brushstrokes on a cosmically pastoral aural landscape. The music is completely free in its exploration, yet always struck me as having a sense of direction. It's both abstract and well defined in its structure. Space ambient fans will find much to enjoy here. Some of it brought to mind a blend of Eno and early Tangerine Dream. Other parts are like minimalist Pink Floyd. We've got massive earth shattering drones. But the music is for the most part thoughtful, calm, and highly image inducing. Much of this would make excellent film soundtrack music. The CD includes 10 tracks, though each transitions smoothly into the next. That's a plus for me because I like to settle in and surrender my thoughts to music like this, and the continuity makes for a fuller album experience.
If you consider the recent slew of releases from the likes of Gareth Hardwick, Adam W. Flynn and Chris Herbert and add the work of mwvm to the equation, the UK finally seems to be gathering an ambient scene together that could rival that of the US. British ambient sounds have, for far too long, lived in the shadows of acts like Eluvium, Stars of the Lid and other artists within the Kranky collective.
"Rotations" is the debut full-length from MWVM, a project bearing the name of Durham based guitar experimentalist Michael Walton. Recording ten movements in a self-induced, solitary environment, Walton's music comes across like cavernous, monolithic noise, powerful yet inherently graceful. Timeless melodies wash across degraded industrial ambiance, pointing towards influences such as Labradford's seminal "Prazision" LP and Wolfgang Voigt's grand, lulling passages under his GAS moniker.Tracks like "Context Where?" use a maze of guitar manipulations and sound imperfections. Progressing organically, the subtle chord shifts represent the sounds of a slow-motion orchestra, evolving sounds move through emotions of sorrow, optimism, hope and contemplation. Beyond the intrusion of rhythm and percussion and all the better for it, Walton builds gargantuan waves of wall rattling sound, like Alexander Tucker's loop experiments only without the hypnotic vocals. Amidst this beatless bliss of knot-like textures and slow arpeggios, the listener will gradually succumb to each passage's gravity. The underlying aggression and bubbling tension ensuring the paths chosen by Walton are never predictable.
A number of tracks ("Negative Pole", "It's Easy to Be Miserable", "Celestial Motion") are shrouded in transparent industrial haze. The layers of drones and swell of guitar effects create the swirling, dark fog of a distant ghostly planet. "Celestial Motion", as the title may suggest, develops from such darker terrains, accumulating sounds that resemble waves of Gregorian chanting.
Outwith such cold and sterile climates, MWVM also constructs warm ambient/drone pieces, from the hopeful, angelic strains of "Never Constant" to the Marsen Jules-like "Sleepy Crayfish". But it is the epic "Oratory Clout" that truly defines Walton's style. Like an extreme winter blizzard, the 12 minute long "...Clout" at first evokes images of vast, ice covered tundra's.
These cold and infecting sentiments soon begin to subside with the introduction of an optimistic guitar chord progression. Combining with filters of sound and field recordings of buried voices, mwvm creates an impression of a weather-beaten traveler battling, in his journey, against the extreme elements. The guitar purposefully plays against the violent force of the evolving arctic haze.
It may be subtle and require a degree of endurance from the listener, but ultimately "Rotations" rewards such patience. mwvm has created a body of work that is beautiful, strange and haunting.
Avec ses morceaux au long cours, étirés en drones bourdonnantes et ondulantes, Michael Walton appartient à cette génération de musiciens ayant appris à tirer partie de l’outil technologique, électronique et informatique, pour trouver de nouvelles perspectives à la musique de guitares. Mais à l’écoute d’un morceau comme "Fireside", on comprend vite que ce Rotations, premier véritable album de son projet isolationniste MWVM, trouve une résonance particulière. Derrière ses nappes instrumentales, redorées de sonorités synthétiques et de textures soignées, travaillées par divers effets de pédales jusqu’à créer des climats à la fois chauds, lumineux et inquiétants (la montée fascinante de "It’s easy to be miserable"), on retrouve la patte de l’interprète, ce feeling si particulier qui place Michael Walton dans la lignée grave et mélodique d’un John Fahey par exemple. Certes, les arrangements omniprésents ne transigent pas à travers ces couches de sédiments harmoniques qui viennent gonfler chacune des pièces de flétrissures digitales enveloppantes, mais on est très vite convaincu à son écoute que même dépouillé, débarrassé de ces scories granuleuses qui perturbent des morceaux comme "Negative pole", ce Rotations n’aurait pas moindre allure. Mais inutile de se priver de ses magnifiques effets de manche. En trouant l’espace de ce charivari fusionnel, Michael Walton défie les lois de la gravitation et ce Rotations peut décemment s’inscrire dans la lignée, quoique encore plus méditatif, du And Their Refinement Of The Decline de Stars Of The Lid.
MWVM consists of Michael Walton, a one-man sonic machine hailing from Ireland’s County Durham. Beginning around 1996, Michael started honing his craft, writing music and exploring his musical boundaries and expanding his creativity. In 2005 Walton evolved into MWVM. After recording a couple demo EPs and piquing the interest of some labels who knew good music when they heard it, Walton settled with an independent label in Raleigh, North Carolina: Silber Records, the label that has just released his debut full-length CD, entitled Rotations.
When listening to this CD one gets a sense of some of his influences such as Brian Eno’s ambient works (i.e., Music for Airports), Moebius, Can and Henry Cow: pioneering prog-rock/ambient bands and artists. More contemporary influences could be Tortoise, Remora and Aphex Twin, but without the freneticism of the latter. But make no mistake, MWVM has a unique sound, it is all-Michael Walton; it’s neither derivative nor a “been-there-done-that” disc. MWVM’s work comes off as a man who is a loner, an introverted guy; one who spends his free-time coming up with drifting, lilting, beautiful soundscapes that are apparent on Rotations.
This CD is defined by its swirling, deeply-textured harmonies that use guitar synthesizers and keyboards and which is devoid of percussion; some examples of this includes “Celestial Motion”, “Oratory Clout” and the opening cut, “Context, Where?”, a song whose title blithely sizes up the mood of the rest of the CD. Rotations is the type of disc that one puts on and listens to straight through – no “singles” here, just the perfect type of atmospheric music, an environmental backdrop that is hypnotic, mesmerizing and the perfect lullaby for an overworked, stressed out life.
Don’t expect any dance music or pop stuff on this CD. Rotations is the quintessential ambient classic-to-be; helpful for peaceful entrancement or meditation. It will help you clear your mind of all the racing thoughts and noise in your head.
Michael Walton was destined to be on a label like Silber. Creating his ambient drone soundscapes through guitar manipulation and delay pedals (a la Remora) the County Durham inhabitant has found himself a growing popularity despite his isolationist mode of working and a sound that practically acts as a calling card for a label interested greatly in drone and experimental ambience (among other things). So in the month that Sigor Ros release their latest album, fans of Walton, (alias MWVM) will find themselves gorged on post rock with the imminent release of his first full length; Rotations.
Hearing‘Context . Where?’ for the first time you’d be forgiven in thinking that the sounds were produced by keyboards and even with this prior knowledge I still find myself doubting that the harmonious and peaceful sound was created entirely from guitar manipulation. Regardless of the technical aspect, the track establishes Walton’s prowess straight away,creating a sound that, from a solo artist, is remarkably structured, sounding more like an entire group had a part in its formation.
Uniquelyand refreshingly, Walton also shows change in direction from track to track with ‘Fireside’ being an altogether more pensive piece that uses effectively the low drone of a singular note repeated throughout the composition as with ‘It’s Easy to be Miserable’ in which Walton changes the emotive feeling again, this time allowing the sound to conjure more of an ominous tone with distant industrious noises and sounds that replicate themselves while the rumbling bass increases in volume at slow but slightly disquieting speed.
It's not all doom and gloom however, as previously mentioned ‘Context. Where?’ opens the album on a lighter note and there are others too within the mix, Walton providing a balanced ambient work that neglects neither one emotion nor the other.
'Celestial Motions’ for instance, with its waves of guitar echo, warped to unrecognizable sound from such an instrument, creates an atmosphere that is less definable than previous tracks, creating a sort of spiritual air about itself with hypnotic loops and resonating repetitions of sound combing to compose a well woven soundscape.
It's well documented in previous reviews of drone artists it is perhaps not the mastery of the instruments used in question, but what effect the music has upon the listener. And while most if not all ambient/drone artists may sail down similar musical outcomes, the subtleties in difference from one artist to the next is just as intriguing as the sounds they create themselves. With the track ‘Oratory Clout’ for example, the isolation of Walton when recording the album is captured precisely via its minimalist opening of a solitary sound which is repeated for some time, allowing ever so slightly the faintest hint of more “identifiable” guitar work to be layered over the top.
With post rock on such a wave of popularity at the minute it would be a shame for a project such as Walton’s MWVM to go overlooked, if not for its achievement as a solo project then simply for being a slice of great ambient music in general.
MichaelWalton é um inglês dedicado à música electrónica que desde 1996 tem vido a fazer experiências com pedais de delay e técnicas de gravação. Nos últimos anos refinou o seu som centrando-se nas áreas de manipulação de guitarra, repetição e ambiência, o que levou ao aparecimento oficial de Mwvm no outono de 2005. Em Janeiro de 2006 auto-editou um EP de demos e apresenta agora Rotations, o álbum de estreia. Apesar de partilhar elementos de post rock, isolacionismo e ambientalismo, as suas criações são bem personalizadas, e o seu minimalismo resultante de um isolamento auto-induzido. Os temas são trabalhados a partir de glissandos de melodias assombradas, que se entrançam com camadas de harmonia, ondulações dolentes e estática texturada, com guitarras que se podiam confundir com teclados, na tradição dos trabalhos de Remora, Aarktica ou Lycia. Acima desta atmosfera fria o arranjo gráfico da capa, sugerindo os anéis de Saturno, é o complemento visual perfeito para a excursão sonora aqui proposta.
Post-rock ambient has its place; it’s called "background." Post-rock tends to be far too weird for the casual listener, but if you’re one of the select few that dig droned-out minimalism à la Brian Eno/Robert Fripp and Fear Falls Burning, you’re one of the special ones that can hear the intricate and subtle musicality in the genre affectionally known as "shoe-gazer.
"Rotations is the first full-length album by U.K. multi-instrumentalist Michael Walton working under the moniker mwvm. It's an hour-long, ten-track journey through the post-rock sonicsphere: An opus of single-note volume swells, synthed-out effects loops, and weird, digital delay texturing. No melody, no drums, no apparent structure and no lyrics--an aesthetic bitch-slap to the verse-chorus-verse blueprint of pop-rock. It's abstract and unapologetic as hell.
The ten-minute opening track "Context. Where?" introduces the recorded-in-a-cathedral vibe that fans of Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible will find familiar. Lots of echoey organ washes and gothic harmonic layering, from which the rest of the album flows like a stream from a snowcapped mountain. By track four, "Negative Pole," the cathedral vibe has transformed into more of an abducted-by-aliens texture, with lots of low-end digital droning and Doppler-effect organ weaving in and out.
The album peaks in the twelve-minute track "Oratory Clout;" the low alien-mothership synth hums like a swarm of digital cicadas, until giving way to a clean David Gilmour-style guitar vamp, which, if you hadn’t noticed already, exposes Walton’s undeniable Meddle-era Pink Floyd influence. The sound of random drops of water in the closer "Never Constant" marks where the sonic mountain stream ends; if you’ve never heard a leaky faucet on psychedelics, it pretty much sounds like this. Though Rotations isn’t anything experienced shoe-gazers haven’t heard before, it’s stilla solid full-length debut effort. But if you’re not a shoe-gazer, forget about it.
SHOE-GAZER RATING: THREE STARS
Tastes like chicken
Antalet varianter på den långsamt svävande, dimbanksfärgade gitarrdronen besläktade med band som Stars of the Lid, Eluvium och Aarktica tycks oändliga. Det kan naturligtvis diskuteras hur många skivor man egentligen behöver för att ackompanjera upplevelsen av att ligga utsträckt på den oslagna sensommarängen och iaktta molnens rörelser, men när resultatet är så pass meditativt som på ”Rotations” har musiken ett själsligt hål att fylla. Ljudbilden är på intet sätt unik med sina utdragna gitarrskulpturer och isolationistiska minimalism men effekten är likväl imponerande.
mwvm är brittiske Michael Walton, en artist som i mångt och mycket tidigare fokuserat på ett elektroniskt uttryck. Kanske är det just därför gitarrtexturerna lika ofta låter som keyboard och elektroniska effekter som sin egentliga ljudkälla.
Jag tror det var Jon de Rosa (Aarktica) som i en intervju sa att han egentligen inte ser meningen med att ägna tid åt att skapa den perfekta dronen när det inte finns någon möjlighet att skapa en dron vackrare än ljudet från havet, ljudet av att befinna sig under vatten, en spelande gräshoppas, eller något annat ljud från naturen. Det ligger naturligtvis något i det men musiken på ”Rotations” gör ändå ett stämningsfullt försök.
sound of music
Drone/ambient project mwvm has got a vibe that channels Stars of the Lid much of the time: It’s warm and slowly shifting, and it gives the impression that the music delivered is more a result of careful arrangement and composition than many other drone acts'.
At its best, the sound of has got an effective organic facet to it. It’s no surprise that these moments also coincide with the record’s strongest compositions. when mwvm goes for the shimmering and melodic, it does its best work. Some of the tracks on Rotations follow more of a lugubrious, near-dark ambient route. These are also done very well, but the result is more of a barely moving plod than an epic journey. Indeed, the music reaches its most effective, thick and wondrous goal when the drones are allowed to hang in the air and reverberate.
mwvm will appeal to fans of Stars of the Lid and Eluvium, although this project is not yet up to the level of those other two giants’ best work. It still is a recommended album for fans of those bands and of the melodic drone genre. (7.5/10)
Rotations is not so much an album as it is a soundtrack to some tripped out sci-fi movie that’s yet to be made. The tracks on this first full-length release from Mwvm bring to mind galaxies spinning, nebulae condensing into sheets of stars, and planets forming from swirling bits of dust and debris. This is what you want to be listening to if you’re high on mushrooms or some seriously potent weed. This is what you want to be listening to while making slow love on a water bed in utter darkness. It’s ambient space-fucking music, part Kinski, part Sigur Rós, without ever getting as anthemic or energetic as either of those bands’ music.
Michael Walton,the lone member of Mwvm, doesn’t utter a word on the album; it’s all ambient sounds and guitar tones, building and swelling, then disappearing into the darkness. Each track merges into the next, and one would be hard pressed to argue that any of the tracks are actually songs, but it is music, nonetheless—soothing and strangely meditative, like you imagine the embryo at the end of 2001 to be right before Richard Strauss’s “Also sprach Zarathustra” kicks in.
Se vi piacciono gli strumentali dei Sigur Ros allora non perdetevi questo disco. Michael Walton ha costruito nel suo album d'esordio “Rotations” un'ora di ambient chitarristica eterea e sognante. La prima composizione dell'album, “Context.Where?” sembra proprio uscita dal 'braket album' degli islandesi. Pochi minuti di glissando che potrebbero durare un'eternità. più avanti nel disco l'elettronica di mwmv si fa scura e dalla terza traccia, “It's Easy To Be Miserable”, si naviga nelle acque territoriali della Silber, tra drones alla Aarktica e geiser alla If Thousand. Ogni tanto emergono a fatica frammenti di luce dal buio che avvolge ogni cosa (“Negative Pole”). E le chitarre prendono a suonare come fossero generatori di segnali di chissà quale galassia (“Celestial Motion”). Su “Rotations” aleggia ancora lo spettro dei Sigur Ros: ma è uno spirito nero, tutt'altro che rassicurante.
losing it today
MWVM is the musical project of Michael Walton. This Englishman releases his debut “Rotations” on Silber Records label. As early as 1996 did he begin with making music, but he took him a full decade to create his first demos. The music press was very enthusiastic about this work and Michael Walton played several festivals and was signed to Silber Records. And now he brings us his first full-length. And it is a beauty!
“Rotations” is a delightful album that reminds us directly of the music of Godspeed You Black Emperor, Mogwai and Fear Falls Burning: beautifully spun out guitar drones with a lot of loops, reverbs and different melodies intertwined. Ten of these masterpieces are pressed on this disc and they all come with appropriate song titles: 'Context.Where?', 'It's Easy To Be Miserable', 'Celestial Motion', 'Oratory Clout' and 'Never Constant'. The album has no lesser parts and never loses interest. The tension is coherently high, without getting irritating or too worked-up. “Rotations” can be played in the background and a serene mood is guaranteed. This album can also be played with full volume and then you really can get pleasanlty lost in the repetitions and spherical flow of the songs.
Some time ago a saw Fear Falls Burning as an opening act before Cult Of Luna. This Belgian guy pleasantly surprised me with showing the audience how a strong and convincing guitar drone is created on stage. When I listen to “Rotations” - lying on my back strechted out on my heavenly blue carpet with my cat purring on my chest – I'm getting very curious as to how MWVM creates his tracks. It makes me look forward to future releases and also to hopefully some live shows performed by this County Durham based sound magician.
Only a year and a half after their debut release, mwvm (aka Michael Walton) has already entered and settled into a much colder territory. Taking a step forward, Rotations moves its ten tracks on a single flowing journey through shivering layers of guitar and fx coatings. While it may share elements with post rock, isolationism and ambient musics, this is definitely of itself. Heightening this cold atmosphere, the bleached out Saturn's rings-style artwork is the perfect visual accompaniment to the excursion.
The majority of the tracks here favor the abstract over the relaxing guitar-gone-ambient style of his peers. This album stands out as a panacea to the remaining dependence on rock that even the far left of post-rock still retains. It's only the opening "Context. Where?" where memory-tugging melodies and brushstrokes of pedal steel like playing come to the fore. The rise and lull of notes, and their progressive coming together, sees guitar lines floating in alternating layers like varicoloured liquids that won’t mix.
Circling itself, "Oratory Clout" adds field recordings and dim electronics to layers of ringing, shivers running alongside and through the notes. There are dark movements across the record, whistling metallic glides and recurring vibrations of satellite paths. The lost horn call sounds of "Negative Pole" are trapped in the air, cold basilica echoes running through Rotations. This records perfect moment though appears on the drowsily titled "Sleepy Crayfish," avoiding guitar glories it goes instead for subtle currents. Gorgeously (and surprisingly, for such a frozen release) capturing a warm underwater world without resorting to anything other than lush emissions of sound, this is mwvm inspiring the rest of the crowd to keep in the gentlest possible way.
Through Silber Records and from the United Kingdom arrives this project of post-music with lots of electronica and guitars by Michael Walton. Although it delves more in the ambient, this record is a sonic bomb. I've always wondered how can i stand (and enjoy) this kind of music, even when i cannot stand concrete and industrial music.
Walton makes wonders with sounds extracted from guitars, delay effects, electronic sounds here and there wrapping you around in a very interesting ambient sound. The opening track,"Context, Where ?" puts you in a trance that lasts almost ten minutes (pure ambient that is mind-altering) that continues with Fireside and almost unnoticeably develops into a third track (It's Easy to Be Miserable). You could leave it there in a first listening, but then you arrive to Negative Pole.... At this point you could be already hypnotized or lobotomized... you can develop that ability, and if you don't believe me, follow to Negative Pole, where you will be wrapped in curtains and curtains of sounds that curiously at the end of the road you can call music.
Celestian Motion "grows" or better yet, experiments with sounds while keeping the trance (it becomes harder to change or move at all at this point of the record), while Rotations changes its tone more towards the post-rock (what follows after Context... is more like experimental ambient). On spite of the hidden guitars, it would only need the voices in strange languages to play a second voice to Sigur Rós, an excellent track that ends breaking a little the lethargy that the record follows up to that point.
The lucky changes continue, and then appears Oratory Clout, as if it were being played backwards, and giving an interesting point to everything Walton is delivering in this disc. Repetition goes on, ambient and everything else, but the background sounds of the guitars submerge theirselves in the sea of sounds like whales, taking the experience to another level. You can enjoy it an almost feel an itch in your skin...
8 minutes just before the end, the guitars cleanly appear, generating a revolution in everything you have been listening to up to that moment. This is the disc's single, the one that we would put in the show....
Sleepy Crayfish returns more to the ambient, in a swing that feels oceanic, where you can actually feel the coming and going of the tide, wrapping you around again, with more sounds and harmony, while Windows stays "monosillabic" with little changes along the track, as if a single note were played and all the rest were just harmonies around it, reaching to a point where it feels more like a psych tune more than anything else... Interesting, although i enjoyed more the others.
The record ends with Never Constant, another good track in the line of Rotations and Oratory Clout, with more harmonies and equally filled with sonic walls... pretty fat, certainly, and full of sounds that hadn't appeared before. One of the best tracks in the record.
Personally i can say that i missed more percussive sounds to enjoy more this material. However this kind of music is based on an experimental principle that doesn't include this kind of sounds. I think that things end up pretty well if you are a post-rock fan and you can appreciate experimentation.
This record can serve as the soundtrack for a hypnotic trance, the kind of experimentation that Silber Records loves to promote. Dare to try it and see the results by yourself.
The field of electric guitar ambience -- feedback and tones played, looped, treated, and more -- is now its own well-established tradition, from the early experiments of Robert Fripp and Brian Eno to any number of later drone artists. Michael Walton's formal debut under the MWVM moniker is as a result familiar rather than something strikingly new, but Rotations is nonetheless a lovely effort all around, showing good skills in performing and arranging and signaling a promising future. Notably, in an era of extremely clean home-recording possibilities, Walton keeps the tape hiss in, much like Dave Pearce, a partial sonic forebear, did with Flying Saucer Attack. "Context. Where?," the excellent opener, captures that as well as Walton's knack for meditative but triumphant arrangements -- if so many such compositions can feel like a warm sunrise, this feels like an enveloping one. It makes further sense that the following song would be called "Fireside," since again there's a sense of embracing comfort in the high, slow swirl of tones -- there's little overtly dark-as-such in Walton's work, no deep howling drones, but instead a chilled contemplation that emphasizes serenity. "Celestial Motion," with its back-and-forth collage touched with what sounds like a heavenly choir of ghosts, might be the pinnacle of this part of the album, while "Windows" plays up a piercing microsecond shriek as the swells rise and fall without disrupting the mood. There's also some dry humor at play -- a brief, moodier number is called "It's Easy to Be Miserable."
Durham resident, Michael Walton is mwvm (you’re on your own figuring what the “vm” stands for) and ‘Rotations’ is his debut full length release of minimalist guitarscapes in the classic tradition of Remora, Aarktica, Windy & Carl and Stars of the Lid. The nebulous, floating opener, ‘Context. Where?’ immediately establishes a somewhat confusing, sensory deprivation tank atmosphere as the listener searches for terra firma, perhaps wondering: “Is that a keyboard…guitar…synth…perhaps a violin…? Walton’s work is all about harmonics…drones… you won’t find any “songs” here in the traditional verse/chorus/verse structure. In fact, the beauty of the music is that there is no structure to any of it, although I’m sure Walton may argue that it’s all carefully “constructed” in the Beefheartian sense. You most certainly will feel warmth enveloping you as Walton’s guitars create a sense of returning to the womb, with the listener perhaps subconsciously reliving the pre-birth period of floating in amniotic fluid.
‘Fireside’ continues the soothing, relaxing atmosphere. Imagine cuddling up beside it and letting its warmth overtake you, like anesthesia slowly dissolving the mind into a state of waking unconsciousness. But then there’s an ominous, industrial metallic sheen razorblading across ‘It’s Easy To Be Miserable” that suggests this track may not be the best track to listen to alone in the dark, coming down from the previous evening’s revelries! The lack of space between tracks also invites the listener to experience ‘Rotations’ as a single track, with each of the ten titled segments representing a slight mood swing… a variation on a central theme, whose meaning is open to the individual interpretation of each listener. If I may suggest several: a representation of the various stages of the psychedelic experience, a transitional passage through different levels of R.E.M. sleep, or perhaps a musical treatise on the fine line between the conscious and unconscious worlds. As such, the album can almost serve as a scientific experiment. I’d love to have a bunch of wires attached to me and be loaded down into one of those sensory deprivation tanks that William Hurt inhabited in ‘Altered States’ and have the album pumped in through headphones and then have the EEG/EKG patterns my body emits under the influence of ‘Rotations’ evaluated. That’s not to suggest by any means that you go home, drop a few roofies and spread out on the couch and let ‘Rotations’ do its thing. But if you have been suffering from bouts of insomnia, the soothing, ambient swashes of ‘Rotations’ ethereal guitar strains is guaranteed to lower your blood pressure a few notches.
From the ebb and flow of the title track and the backward phasing at the beginning of ‘Oratory Clout’ to the Tangerine Dream-like soundtrack stylings of ‘Sleepy Crayfish,’ ‘Rotations’ does at times sound like a hearing test, but for contemplative navel-gazing, I’ve not heard a better soundtrack all year. Highly recommended to snorecore enthusiasts, aerobic cybernauts and fans of Eno’s ambient period. I could also attest firsthand, that it’ll take the sting and aggravation out of a long, gruelling trek to work. Just roll up the windows, crank this up, and enter a completely relaxed dimension that’s an instant cure for road rage. Just be sure to watch my rear end, not hers!
Drone ambient is, unfortunately, appealing only to a very small sliver of people. The basic element of drone compositions is a swelling and ebbing core of music that is wrapped by filaments of other, smaller sounds. This produces several elemental ideas that replicate the outer darkness of space or an internal loneliness. Whatever metaphor you choose, drone music can effectively provide a center to be built around.
On Rotations, the ambient drone album from Silber’s UK-based artist, mwvm, better known as Michael Walton, there are 10 tracks of lengthy (a good thing) pieces of guitar manipulations and repetitions produced in an isolationist environment. In so doing, the eeriness and desolation of being alone reveals itself through the music. This can be a powerful thing if drunk in moments of self-introspection.
All of Rotations is intriguing if you pursue music in many forms, drone ambient being one of them. There are few artists producing this type of melody and harmonics, much as there were few artists dabbling in electronic manipulations back in the late ‘70s. But those that perfected the genre ruled it.
Michael Walton’s mwvm is one of those pioneers, along with POD and Fear Falls Burning (vidna obmana side project), that can evolve with the music they produce in all of its industrialized, internalized, and spacey madness. Recommended for the adventurous. 3.5/5
Rotations features the kind of classy, odd ambient stuff that has made the Silber label a household name among a small yet devoted group of people around the globe. mwvm (none of the letters are capitalized) is the solo project created by Michael Walton who resides in County Durham in the United Kingdom. Walton's music consists of all-instrumental electronics...slow, methodical, and dreamy in nature. The guitar playing on this album is rather unusual in that it is very hard to actually recognize the guitars. Much of this music is so soft and subtle...that it is rather difficult to describe. This is the sort of music that is best used to create odd, surreal moods in your living environment. Tired of bopping around to the latest catchy pop band? Or have you found yourself grinding your teeth away once too often after too many loud blasts of harsh metal? If so take a chill pill...put on Rotations...and allow yourself to float away on a serene cloud of mental fluidity. Wonderful sounding rich stuff...far too peculiar for the casual listener. Recommended. (Rating: 5+++)
Ouch, this is going to be hard one. Behind MWVM is one Micheal Walton from Durham, UK, and he started to play music in 1996 and adopted the name MWVM in 2005. He plays a guitar and effect pedals. His music can be classified as ambient music. When I played this CD I kept thinking: Eno, Fripp, Fear Falls Burning, Hypnos, Stars Of The Lid. Been there, done that, you know the drill. I could all to easily slag this down as copycat # 2983, but actually I really like the music. Nothing new under the ambient sun, but it's nice, it's entertaining, it's atmospheric, it's beautiful. Music doesn't need to be per se new and innovative in the Vital HQ, but it's nice if it is. If it isn't, fine too, and we could simply enjoy the beauty of it and 'Rotations' is certainly a beautiful album.
“In the afternoon, I read Arthur. September issue. Rubric C&D. At this definite instant, I still have no closed eyes. But you suspect it. I read, I read, read, read and I end up down, page 60. Last column. It's about "Faces in the rock", Mariee Sioux. Alela Diane, amongst others, is named (are friends if remember well). Last line. Last sentence. "Please do not interrupt my serenity".
About twenty minutes ago, I decide to listen to "Rotations ". MWVM. First track. "Context.where?" (Yes). First minute barely slipped away when an abstract strength practically forces me to close my eyes. Not to sleep. No. So that my eyes turn inwards of me and appreciate the grandiose landscapes which Michael Walton (MWVM) describes/draws there. In music. It isn't finished yet. I always listen. So, click on the player up here and " please do not interrupt my seren.."
So the wind won’t it all away
“‘Rotations’ is the debut album from County Durham UK, based musician Michael Walton. Curiously I wonder what the name means, since I’m assuming it’s an abbreviation for four words with the first two being Michael Walton, but the vm, perhaps only Michael could answer this question.
That little mystery aside, Rotations is an album filled with sixty one minutes of ambient guitar work, with absolutely no keyboards. I’m really enjoying this record because it sounds a lot more melodic and less drony than most artists in this genre. Also because most of the songs share common traits with the calmest & dreamiest parts of post rock bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor or The Silver Mt. Zion. Bands like Stars of the Lid, If Thousands, and Eluvium also seem to come to mind as I listen to this charming record. The music is of course very peaceful and leisurely paced, but even so at times the music does get a little intense as displayed on ‘It’s Easy To Be Miserable’ when a bit of harsh noise enters near the end. ‘Negative Pole’ is another example where there is a buzzing sort of noise layered over the guitar drone, while the rest of the time spent on this album is mostly a relaxing and beautiful sounding journey.
Michael Walton has given us a record that shares common characteristics with ambient, post rock, and even some noisier moments, but it all gels together nicely for one enjoyable experience I suggest you check out.
8 of 10 “
“rating: **** If you haven't yet experienced what a guitar can do outside the conventional thinking box, rotations is a place to begin. UK artist mwvm plays with guitars that produce otherworldly ambient textures that you could swear are computer electronics and synth. The UK artist has worked with guitar effects since the mid-90s and finally releases this debut. Goody, there is much to explore here. The coolest thing about rotations is that the tracks blend together seamlessly. Mind expanding for sure.”
“With icy blasts of condensation, Context. Where? has been charging across the stereo field of my hifi for tha past few days. Michael Walton has been here before under his mwvm moniker, drawing long glissando drones from his customized guitar-based effects set-up. Last year's debut self-titled EP opened a door to a more interesting breed of guitar instrumental. Taking his lead from luminaries such as Adam Wiltzie and Brian McBride (both collectively and individually), Walton runs with these ideas and electrifies them. This particular track has been available on the mwvm myspace page for a little bit, but released from the myspace player it has been buffed and polished until it shines.
Too often, so-called drone ambient artists ignore the grand romantic sweep in favor of micro-dynamics, the random scratch of a radio dial, the bluster of white noise feedback, but Walton steers a refreshingly different course whereby distinct guitar resonances are built, layer upon layer, frequency band upon frequency band creating distinct and delicate melodies. Never once relying to cliché (of course completely unlike this reviewer), his first full-length release, Rotations, is set for release on September 25th by Silber Records.
This is music to be listened to and, as such, to categorize this as ambient is dangerous. This album cannot be ignored and therefore immediately breaks Eno's first law of ambient. Nevertheless, it drifts with intent, at first lulling the listener then pummeling them with sound. There have always been albums that have incited listeners to play them loud. Here we have one that really does need it. To listen to it quietly removes its sheer physicality.
Rather than the occasionally polite but floating drone of William Basinski, mwvm slams into the target. You don't float with Rotations, you drown in it, twisting and writhing. The immediacy of each melodic and harmonic theme enveloping the listener within each track and the album as a whole”
Drone and minimalist acts are not the easiest genres to listen to. With slow, entrancing waves of sound that fade in and out as though they had surpassed the flow of time itself, most drone is best appreciated with headphones on and plenty of time to kill. mwvm’s debut album is no different, other than the fact that it seamlessly blends the organic with the electronic. Whereas most drone and ambient acts are quick to turn to computer generated sounds to produce their music, mwvm’s debut Rotations is made entirely with a guitar and pedals. The result is a natural, flowing sound that at times sounds electronically composed, and is an experience worth diving into.
Rotations is particularly notable because every song on it sounds as though it was composed with electronics. Michael Walton, the sole musician behind this effort, is clearly experienced in the use of delay pedals and various effects as he uses both to create layered landscapes of sound that will pull the listener in and let them drift among its various textures and melodies. Listening to many of the songs on Rotations is similar to lying in the middle of a field and letting the wind pass over you; it’s calming and will put you at peace.
Although some forms of drone focus on haunting sounds, mwvm is more focused on melodic backdrops that repeat and slowly change. Walton has created guitar sounds that often sound nothing like a guitar, and could potentially fool some people into thinking otherwise. But make no mistake, Rotations is an extremely minimalist album. This isn’t an album to drive to or listen to casually; it demands your full and undivided attention.
Minimalist artists may not be everyone’s style, but if you’re able to appreciate the genre or have an open mind then check out Rotations. It seamlessly makes the organic sound electronic and provides ambient backdrops that stimulate without becoming boring. Michael Walton has showcased a unique way of playing the guitar that is both ambient and entrancing, and hopefully people will take notice of that.
"The debut release by this north-east solo artist is a short collection of ambient post rock. Minimalist drone soundscapes are created as the listener is taken on a powerful journey. Stunning."
"Hailing from County Durham, this is a beautiful well crafted series of undulating ambient soundscapes that could sit alongside anything on Montreal's Constellation records. The eerie bottle-neck guitar on the first track, Relayed In Stars brought to mind Ry Cooder's desolate soundtrack to the Natasha Kinsky/Harry Dean Stanton tour de force, Paris, Texas. Closely followed by Sold, a slow burning warm analogue drone again wrapped in haunting slide guitar melodies, you think it can't get any better. But it does. Wasted year - which is straight from the Lee Ranaldo school of guitar manipulation - stands out with its slowly evolving distorted drones and harmonic threads. Nicely eased off by the Steve Reich minimalism of Everything Never Changes, this is an outstanding EP, well deserving of an extensive label release..."
“This is the kind of debut that knocks on the door of Kranky and Constellation only to be carried directly into the pressing plant on a silver platter decorated with rose petals. This six tracker from mwvm (aka Michael Walton) shows a grasp of the ‘isms’ (minimalism, hypnotism and droneism) that’s already beyond the reach of acts with six times as many members.
The music of Mwvm drifts out on the outer surface of song and orbits through the trails and pulls of larger musical institutions. Through freezing cold deep space “Relayed in Stars” trembles like the mile back detritus of the Nostromo as a shower of rock cuts through wavering effects. The sliding drones and restrained strum drifts could be slivers from a Ry Cooder soundtrack.
Much of this release is swathed in swirls of ringing guitar which peal out, travelling from fog to foreground. The feedback throb and shady atmosphere of “Wasted Year” is lifted into the light by a piece of majestic glowing guitar playing. “Sold” is made of altogether softer noise and the rippling six string guitar briefly bursts through the drone and warm sky background. For an album with cover art of ice blue undergrowth, there are plenty of balmy sonic moments to be immersed into. Everything flows well except for “Everything Never Changes,” which moves on a jarring ring of sound rocked by little ruptures of disorientating electronic noise. But eve this soon settles languidly into a guitar line.
“Key” closes this collection with a high end whine that sounds like raindrops on bells recorded in stark electric light. The combination of these moments of bleakness is always more than balanced out by the hope radiating from the melodies here. This is setting a high benchmark for debut."
"...creating minimal arrangements with subtle melodies.... combining scattered noise, swells, hypnotic guitars, layered drones and sparse electronics drenched in fx...." so says the website and press release. An understated work of genius would be nearer to the point.
There are 6 tracks on this release which feel more like movements of a symphony, if you're lucky enough to be distracted from watching the counter climb towards the summit of each 'song' you can drift off into a universe waiting to be explored. Loops of guitar noise intertwine with ethereal otherworldly samples to create an ever changing, escalating shimmer of sound. Played on your computer you can immerse yourself in the visuals (courtesy of media player) so perfectly balancing with the audio imagery, it's hypnotizing as the various sounds come and go, each replacing and augmenting what has come before. And then nothing.... you're in space floating deep within yourself. The absent vocals concentrating your mind, relaxing, yet simultaneously, strangely stimulating.
Turn off the lights and find a world that is mwvm."
"ART FOR ART’S SAKE
MWVM “Relayed In Stars”
At last, someone who doesn’t want to be famous. MWVM, or Michael as his mum knows him, is content to express himself in sound, and fine sound at that. This cd is around a half hours worth of elegant, shifting, sound collage. Too interesting for brain-dead chilling, but nowhere near chart accessibility, too clinical for stoner drift, but ideal for open-minded listeners and they are encouraged to sign in here…"