Review: Neo-classical composer Christoph Berg impressed with his 2012 debut album, Paraphrases. In the time since, he's mostly worked on collaborative releases; happily, he's finally got round to producing a second solo full-length. Produced in a similar fashion to his previous output, with Berg layering up recordings of him playing violin, organ, piano and double bass alongside subtle electronics and manipulated found sounds, Conversations is a soft-focus symphony in eight parts. Full of slowly shifting movements, the album slowly shuffles between heart aching melancholy, springtime beauty and the kind of poignancy more readily associated with neo-classical heavyweights such as Nils Frahm.
Review: Normally found weaving their reflective ambient orchestrations on Type, Norwegian duo Deaf Center have been snapped up by Sonic Pieces to offer up a haunting two-sided release that demonstrates their continued mastery of arresting instrumentation played out at a funereal pace. "Follow Still" is particularly haunting with its plaintive piano notes lingering long in the mix while the most subtle drone accompaniments drift listlessly around them. "Oblivion" has a more evocative tone that conjures up noirish scenes with carefully treated horn-esque sounds, buffing down the individual notes to create a more fluid melodic whole.
Review: Since releasing their first EP on Type back in 2004, Deaf Center duo Erik K Skodvin and Otto A Totland have delivered some of the most mesmerizing and well thought-out ambient, IDM and electronica around. "Low Distance" - here presented in limited-edition form complete with a hand numbered insert - builds on the success of 2014 set "Recount", which cleverly combined clandestine neo-classical movements with the claustrophobic paranoia of dark ambient. There's perhaps a little more joy and pure beauty this time round - see the fluid pianos and whistling chords of "Entity Voice" and the becalmed "Undone" - but album still retains the same sense of loneliness and dread that marked out its predecessor.
Review: The eponymous debut album from London-based Welsh/Canadian duo Moon Ate The Dark was one of the most underrated downtempo sets of 2012; a thrillingly evocative set of piano compositions laden in reverb and subtle production trickery. While this year's follow-up, Moon Ate The Dark II, altered the formula a little - specifically by including a whisper of drone-inspired electronics and more imaginative production treatments - the mesmerising, eyes-wide-shut effect was the same. Here, the two albums are paired together for the first time on a two-disc set housed in a lovely, hand-printed sleeve. If you've not heard either album, it should be an essential purchase.
Review: Although fusing modern classical and ambient music has become popular in recent times, Otto A Totland is no bandwagon-jumping newcomer. As part of Deaf Center, the Norwegian pianist and producer made telling contributions to the style's development as far back as 2004. His debut solo album, 2014's Pino, is also widely regarded as something of an unassuming, modern-day classic. This belated follow-up is every bit as beguiling as its predecessor, with Totland unfurling simple, stripped-back tracks built around his deft and sympathetic piano improvisations and hazy field recordings. It's similar in tone to some of Nils Frahm's work, though it feels a lot more melancholic, distant and atmospheric; all traits that guarantee and emotional listening experience.