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Experimedia presents the fourth full length solo album by Kansas-based Aaron Martin. A former collaborator of artists as diverse as Machinefabriek and Dawn Smithson (Sunn O))), Martin originally devised 'Worried about the Fire' as the soundtrack to a short film and the record sees him deconstructing preexisting snippets, sketches and samples from various collaborations and solo performances. All prior restrictions were set aside as Martin forwent his regular live-approach, untypically using electronic processing and effects and editing the parts without limiting himself in any way. Still built around his set-up of cello, banjo, harmonica and organ, there is an unsettling installation-character to the work, with distant echoes of acoustic instruments shining through the ghostly fabric of these twelve short pieces. Mastered by 12k label-head Taylor Deupree, 'Worried about the Fire' has however not only turned out a dark and demure work, but also one of brittle beauty - ranging from the meditative cymbal-space of 'Ice melts' and the broken-Piano semblance of 'Blue Light' to the consoling Ambient-Folk of 'Making Rope'.
Also available on CD
Written & Produced by: Aaron Martin
Mastered by: Taylor Deupree
Photography & Design by: Jeremy Bible
Ice Melts Onto Fingers (2:58)
Open Knife (3:32)
New Brighton (3:22)
Water Tongue (3:48)
Wires of Glass (3:35)
Reed Tunnel (3:13)
Marked in Dust (2:48)
Blue Light (3:18)
Beaver Falls (3:12)
Making Rope out of Eyelashes (3:10)
Aaron Martin began his musical life at age 11, switching between guitar and drums. At the age of 17, he decided to change paths and learn how to play the cello, which he went on to study in college. While earning his music degree, he began to experiment with recording.
After creating several self-released collections of music, and graduating college, he recorded Almond, which caught the attention of the Australian label Preservation, and became his debut release. He has gone on to record two more albums for Preservation, River Water and Chautauqua, as well as collaborating with a variety of other musicians, including Machinefabriek, Part Timer, and Tan or Boil, with releases on Type, mobeer, and Under the Spire Recordings.
Aaron Martin lives and records in Topeka, Kansas. Homepage
Exclusive Mix for Fluid Radio
2007 Cyclic Defrost Interview
Radio Session at Dwars
Audio Interview at Ulility Frog
aaron martin t-shirt
aaron martin - chautauqua (cd)
aaron martin / part timer - grass rewound (3 inch cd)
aaron martin - worried about the fire (down)
aaron martin - almond (cd)
aaron martin - river water (cd)
aaron martin - worried about the fire (cd)
tan or boil - seamstress in a suitcase (cd)
jaspter tx - a voice from dead radio (2x cd)
aaron martin & machinefabriek - cell recycling/cello drowning (cd)
the wire 314 - april 2010 (includes wire tapper 23 cd aaron martin & anduin)
the big takeover - #66 30th anniversary (magazine)
The cello is arguably the most diverse of stringed instruments, offering depth and moody basses to convey doom and foreboding sounds, while still maintaining the ability to transmit music of hope and immense beauty wrapped in a rich melancholy. Over the last year the experimental, modern classical scene has been treated with a healthy body of cellists with David Darling lending his talents to Dakota Suites "The End of Trying," Hildur Gudnadottir releasing "Without Sinking" on Touch and Danny Norburys "Light In August" all some of the highlights. Returning in 2010 for his fourth solo album, Aaron Martin, the Australian born, Kansas based multi-instrumentalist, releases "Worried About The Fire," an album certain to be noted in this years collective of cello recordings. Originally conceived as the soundtrack to a short film, the album is actually a deconstruction of previous solo and collaborative recordings, meshed together with electronic sounds and post production processing. It is an album that slowly lures you in. Starting with downright dark, hypnotic drones, "Albee" is an unnerving opening laced with subtle string sounds over a looping humming of noise. Its a track that offers no clues as to what will follow, and indeed the set-up of harmonica, banjo, organ and bell sounds that feature on this album throughout bring an ambiguity to the overall sound. If Aaron Martin does have a trademark amongst his ongoing expansion of sound, it is with his layered, loop-based compositions. The first hint of this is on "Open Knife" a beautifully detailed cello composition showcasing the full range of delivery of the instrument. "Water Tongue" allures the listener, highlighting the depth of sound Martin evokes from his cello playing, with the warmth of his slow low notes juxtaposed with fast rhythms as his bow scatters over the higher ones. While these tracks perhaps define the Aaron Martin sound, and are indeed the most accessible to listen to, the album is rich with very dark, often unsettling music that never detract from the albums overall composition. A standout track perhaps is "Beaver Falls" which builds slowly from a layering of strings and wind sounds to launch seamlessly into a cinematic scoping of cello. It conveys images of chases through forests (at least with me!), and exemplifies what this album is all about. Mastered by 12k label head Taylor Dupree, there is an intimate sound here, and often one can picture themselves being in the same room with Aaron Martin as he joins all his music together. Overall the crafting of each track is reflective of the album as a whole and just as Martin has been able to successfully layer a multitude of different instruments, "Worried About The Fire" stands as a meshing between darkness and light; proving chaos can exist in the most graceful surroundings. -By Josh Atkin
the big takover
Out-of-the-way, expansive locales seem to inspire the most fascinating instrumental artists, and this Topeka, KS based experimentalist is no exception. Martin's fourth album, following 2009's Chautauqua, was originally meant to be a film soundtrack. Deviating from his usual live approach, he's opted to electronically "deconstruct" previously recorded pieces he'd done on cello, banjo, harmonica, and organ, using a melange of odd tunings, effects, loops, and feedback. Each of these 12 ominous and supernatural sound sound collages will conjure up vivid, bizarre images in your head. My interpretations? "Open Knife sounds like an eerie funeral procession, "water Tongue" recalls a deserted old west town, and the disjointed whistling of "Beaver Falls" portends a ship lost at sea. But theLP's mysterious, hypnotic ambience is also the perfect antidote for serious late-night contemplation. (experimedia.net) - Mark Suppanz
Aaron Martin provides the first release in Experimedias new look packaging oversized, lavishly printed and looking mighty fine indeed. This fourth album takes Martins trademark instrumentation of cello, organ and harmonica and combines them into a series of frankly awesome compositions. Allowing the work to unfold at its own pace and using a fair amount of processing and re-tweaking, these pieces have a slightly uneasy undercurrent which gives them a fascinating appeal when combined with the undeniable beauty of the instruments involved. There are abstract and seemingly improvised sounding tracks along with more traditionally folky and classical moments, quieter, more introspective passages and intense, grainy layers and textures. The combination of all of these is what gives the album such a life of its own. Another extremely impressive release from Aaron Martin.
The cover of Aaron Martins fourth full-length album, Worried About the Fire, depicts a row of bare trees under an icy snowfall. The picture is a perfect indicator of the music withinchilly and eerie drones of bowed cello, harmonica, humming sounds, and samples altered beyond recognition quietly encircle one another in dark and beautiful miniatures that together create a dark and evocative work. Most of the pieces are built around a single droning note, from which other timbres slowly stretch to create beats of dissonance. As additional alien sounds enter the sonic palettea note bowed over the bridge or fingerboard to create a natural sense of distortion with overtones, glissing harmonics chopped up and manipulated, canons of sawing stringsthe listener becomes engulfed in a dark and textural world. All but one of the pieces clock in at less than 4 minutes, but each manages to suspend ones perception of time so that every composition constitutes its own miniature journey. "Blue Light" floats electronics and breathing sounds moving between the speakers while strings sift weightlessly through a sea of reverb. In "Albee," a sound reminiscent of a tiny helicopter circles dreamily around delay-heavy hits of a vibraphone-like instrument. "Water Tongue," easily the least droning of the compositions, layers emotional folk-like cello melodies over a descending bassline, As high-string tremolos fade in and out with the quiet scratch of bows scraping against bridges, the piece delicately snowballs to a sustained moment of icy ecstasy. Its no surprise that Worried About the Fire was originally conceived as a soundtrack to a short film. The music seems a perfect accompaniment to a ghostly snowfall or a sedate but disturbing dream sequence. These are experiences as much as they are pieces. While the album as a whole delicately builds to a number of climaxesthe relentlessly looped strings into "Marked In Dust," the intensely building 8th note cello figures that close "Beaver Falls"much of the music has a floating, aimless quality that makes for psychologically sonic textures more than narrative pieces. As abstract as much of Worried About the Fire is, the album makes for an engaging and beautiful listen that consumes you in its textural world. The fact that the pieces are similarly constructed results in a uniform listen where each composition floats into the next while at the same time standing uniquely alone. A score for a film that may or may not exist, Worried About the Fire makes for a deeply and evocative experience that conjures plenty of images of its own. -By Hannis Brown
By now it's probably safe to stop introducing Aaron Martin with references to his prior collaborations with Machinefabriek and the like (oh darn, I've just done it anyway); he's become a major player on the improvised electroacoustic scene in his own right, and Worried About The Fire is his fourth album. The cellist and all-round one-man soundscape devised this new collection of works as a score to a short film, and finds him shirking his usual live approach in favour of processed, electronically edited material. This doesn't interfere with the language of Martin's music (the cello, banjo, organ and harmonica constituent parts remain key) but it does give Martin the opportunity to work in a more composerly fashion than his usual style would dictate, stripping the music of its emphasis on realtime layering and the structural limitations that implies. The album begins in a tentative fashion, spinning a percussive drone through a phaser on 'Albee', before 'Ice Melts Onto Fingers' deconstructs the atmospherics with bells, cymbals and a kind of minimal harmonica fanfare. It's only by 'Open Knife' that Martin's recognisable musical idiom reveals itself, and from here on the string arrangements really start to flow, from the quiveringly melodic majesty of 'Water Tongue' to the suspenseful discord of 'Reed Tunnel', complete with bowed saw. The album's twists and turns make for an always-compelling sequence, and Worried About The Fire is almost certainly Martin's most in-depth and varied long-player to date; 'Wires Of Glass' finds him spinning through loops of vinyl crackle and choirs of meandering, wordless vocals, while elsewhere you encounter the likes of 'Blue Light', whose mysterious, dissolved plucks sound like a piano being played somewhere in the blurry distance. 'Beaver Falls' (presumably a place name rather than a prompter for aquatic mammal schadenfreude) proves to be exceptionally beautiful too, filling its three-minutes with slippery, multilayered high frequency glissandos that eventually cement into rhythmically urgent bowing figures. The recording is such that it sounds as if Martin started out the piece at the back of the room, before eventually making his way towards the mic for a dramatic finale. There's much to absorb here, and Worried About The Fire makes a strong case for being Martin's most assured and mature statement to date. The polish on the finished product is commendable too - Taylor Deupree handles the audio mastering while the opulent, oversized digipak ensures this is a finely dressed release to boot.
Machinefabriek/ Sunn O))) collaborator Aaron Martin is back on disc agin with this stunning solo effort packaged in a scintillating DVD style card slipcase and naturally limited quantities available. Worried About The Fire was originally conceived as a soundtrack piece composed of cello, guitar, banjo and piano, now through the wall of heavily processed electronics do these instruments bleed, leaving us enchanted by a thick haze of sound. Tip for fans of Richard Skelton, Hildur Gudnadottir.
Our very own Business Lady was just commenting that she's glad she's not into the stuff that always seems to come in these oversized packs 'cos it'd fuck up the carefully-arranged Habitat filing systems in her inner-city penthouse. Brian solves problems like these by losing difficult to store items before he's even got them home. Aaron Martin's new one comes packaged in this way ("professionally produced, offset printed, custom engineered, 18pt, 5 x 7, 6 panel packaging in crystal clear 1.6mil resealable poly bag" if you're really asking) and it's got pictures of trees on it. Look! Trees! On the disc you'll find a collection of brief pieces featuring sounds ranging from piano to cello to organ to the reasonably unidentifiable, all processed into sound-arty type shapes which beautifully evoke a variety of moods, generally of the slightly unsettling variety. Good shit.
The new label that Aaron Martin has his newest release on, presents his product in a different way, in a different format, almost like a library object, while calling their series sound objects. I love the idea of how a material thing has its sound, its life. Very different from the MP3 and other virtual worlds, I love a total concept, something touchable, sensible. Originally this album was devised as a soundtrack to a short film, for a part of the visual aspect in the music is also there. Built around the set-up of cello (Aaron Martins main instrument is the cello), banjo (hardly noticeable), harmonica and organ (also more hidden), but also live electronic processing and sound effects. I for instance also recognise some Tibetan bowls and some bowed singing saw effects, despite of few effects as if coming from the effect of electricity on some equipment (producing wonderful naturally evolving sounds), or a whirling turbine device on the first track), as well as loops and feedback or returning feedback like a second layer on the last few tracks. For a large part this is a convincing delicate sonic approach, with use of balancing overtones, or multi-layered organic movements of close-harmonic two-step rhythmical, but still melodic pulses, played by some cello overdubs and enriched with singing bowl or bowed singing saw effects. For the largest part this is like a creative discovering process of sonic explorations of which sounds work together well with a slow interaction. With a very close listen (but with a close listen only) only on the last tracks, the clarifying impression of improvising instantly itself becomes clearer than the perfect invention of a new space, as if creating a new environmental sound object. As a filmic experience this convinces as a explorative meditative piece. The best album I heard of A.M. so far.
Last week I traveled a small bit with Rutger Zuydervelt of Machinefabriek and I couldn't help noticing that he has collaborated with a whole bunch of people which I never heard of, mainly from what can loosely be called 'modern classical/improvisation'. The name Aaron Martin was not mentioned in this connection, but its also someone Zuydervelt worked for his 'Cello Recycling' (see Vital Weekly 564). This new release, I believe the first pro-pressed one for Experimedia, is my first proper introduction to the music of Martin. He started out on guitar and drums, but at the age of seventeen he switched to the cello. He has already had a bunch of releases on various labels. 'Worried About The Fire' started out a soundtrack to a short film, but here, on CD, he uses bits of that to create new work, and adds along the road also cello, banjo, harmonica and organ. Some of it is treated electronically and appears in various layers throughout the twelve pieces. Martin's pieces are rather short, which I thought was a pity. His minimal approach is well-suited, I think, to play pieces of music that is beyond the three minute mark. Often employing a few sounds per track, which are all 'played' (as opposed to 'sampled'), there is natural element in the music, which could be expanded, perhaps into some more 'formal' minimal music approach. That is a pity, as it seems now a bit too 'sketchy' in approach. That's a pity, I think, as there is great potential in the music. Also the recording sounds a bit hollow, like it was recorded in a big open room with some natural reverberation, which add a bit of unwanted treble to the music, and is not as warm as it could have been. This especially is the case when the cello is heard, and not in the various other instruments. However all of this is minor stuff. The music throughout is very nice and thoughtful. Modern classical in approach, recorded through the methods of improvisation, carefully constructed (I assume) on a computer. Nice one. (FdW)
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Toen Aaron Martin op zijn zeventiende naar Topeka, in Kansas verhuisde, was dat ook het moment dat hij besloot om muziek te gaan studeren met als hoofdvak cello. Dat hij vervolgens zelf ging componeren was een logische stap. Hiervoor gebruikt hij naast de cello verder als klankbronnen o.a. ukelele, geluid makend speelgoed, melodica, banjo, glckenspiel, piano en zijn stem. Met behulp van een loop pedaal legt hij vervolgens diverse melodielijnen laag op laag. Aaron Martin maakt op deze manier sferische muziek die je als ideale soundtracks zou kunnen zien. Het zijn composities die tussen soundscapes en folky ambient te plaatsen zijn. Een overeenkomst die hij deelt met muzikanten als Greg Haines en Ethan Rose. Naast een samenwerking met Machinefabriek maakte hij drie volwaardige cds voor Preservation: in 2006 kwam Almond uit, in 2008 volgde River Water, en eind 2009 Chautauqua. Albums vol stijlvolle melodieuze instrumentale stukken waarin zijn persoonlijke ervaringen en herinneringen een belangrijke rol spelen. Aaron Martins vierde cd Worried about the Fire (Experimedia), is de soundtrack die hij maakte voor de film Marked In Dust.
Don't be too misled by the nature theme surrounding this release. Yes, the cover depicts a wintry forest scene and, yes, the press photos show Aaron Martin at the outdoors site and bowing an upright banjo inside his Topeka, Kansas home. But he's also a sophisticated user of electronic production methods, something that becomes clearly evident when he builds his core set-up of cello, banjo, harmonica, and organ into chamber-like set-pieces that sound like they're being performed by a septet rather than a single individual. Originally conceived to be a soundtrack to a short film, Worried about the Fire, Martin's fourth full-length solo album following releases on Preservation, River Water, and Chautauqua, finds him weaving bits and pieces culled from various collaborations and solo performances into twelve succinct settings. Apparently Martin favours a live approach but in this case uses electronic means to build the material into ensemble-styled arrangements. In "Open Knife," for example, Martin creates the impression of a strings-heavy chamber orchestra when his bowed cello multiplies into a droning choir of see-sawing voices. In general, Worried about the Fire could be described as a meditative mini-drone-oriented collection that sees Martin using cello as the material's nucleus. One of the major things that distinguishes his music from that of other producers is that, though electronic methods are used, the overall sound is largely acoustic in nature. In "Water Tongue," bowed strings accumulate to form an entrancing drone-based meditation, while the shuddering wail of strings and ghostly bowing dominate "Beaver Falls" and the spectral folk-ambient "Making Rope out of Eyelashes," respectively. Strings, incidentally, aren't the only sounds heard: "Blue Light" pairs dusty piano and voice, and "Ice Melts Onto Fingers" includes harmonica wheeze, glass tinkles, and glissandi effects that resemble a porpoise's call. By experimental music standards, the tracks are short—only one exceeds four minutes—but that is part of their appeal. Each makes a complete statement and does so with admirable dispatch, and there's obviously nothing extraneous about the material. One could imagine the hazy drone "Marked in Dust" stretching out for ten minutes but Martin opts to not only rein it in but supplant it with a mini-typhoon of strings before it makes its three-minute exit.
In the most recent Listed feature from Dusted Magazine, Julianna Barwick said that she was pretty sure that "13 Angels Standing Guard 'Round the Side of Your Bed" by A Silver Mt, Zion was "the most beautiful song [she's] ever heard." I have a hard time disagreeing with statement because, one, it's an opinion based on her personal experience, and two, I pretty much agree. That is provides an odd segue into this album review, I know, but Aaron Martin's latest album, Worried About the Fire, feels like a dozen pop sized chamber burners of that same beautiful timber found in "13 Angels…" Martin's work has always been a heavy favourite of mine. His debut, Almond, sat just one tick short of making my end of decade list. On this most recent full length, Worried About the Fire, Martin doesn't set out to do the same things that he accomplished with his first albums, opting instead to rework his existing catalog of recordings into twelve pop sized (2 to 4 minutes) musings on the pangs of minor key gorgeousness. The results are compelling, displaying minute gestures via cello layering, chamber orchestration and avante garde texturing. While Worried About the Fire may not involve the 13 angels enlisted by A Silver Mt. Zion, it's difficult not to imagine the 12 tracks on the album each standing in for a particularly angelic seraph. Another beautiful outing, Worried About the Fire confirms my opinion that Aaron Martin is perhaps the most compelling post classical composer/musician working today. -Thistle
Originally conceived as the soundtrack for a short film, Worried About The Fire has the hallmarks of atmospheric soundscape built for psychological effect and immersion. Kansas-based Aaron Martin forgoes live cello experimentation for an approach based around deconstruction and electronic manipulation of fragments gleaned from cello, banjo, harmonica and organ. This approach plays out in 12 sketches of electroacoustic sonic forms, or environments, or landscapes, depending on how you envisage the space sound occupies. There is definitely the sense of sketch as precursor, in the painterly sense, to fuller fleshed out pieces. 'Albee' opens the album eliciting a form of electroacoustic flutter, akin to industrial drone, before the introduction of melodic entanglement and release. It builds an expectation soon undercut, in following tracks, by acoustic collage, effect driven processing and concentration on extended dramatic experimentation with the sonic capacities of various acoustic instruments. 'New Brighton', constructs an excellent tense atmosphere with contrasting bowing, spatial effects with Tibetan bowl and the upper register electronic extension of the sound into a sharp resonance for the mind. 'Wires of Glass' with its antique vinyl hiss and loop, hum, and choral like drone induce what can only be described as a reverent space. Or at least the sonic equivalent of the perceived imagery forming such a construct, if it constitutes an existent at all. It is just this very dimensional foreboding, eliciting of hushed sharp import that Aaaon Martin is quite skilled at achieving. No doubt the addition of mastering by 12k label head Taylor Dupree adds to the dense rewarding dimensionality of Worried About The Fire. The quite stunning cover art is executed by Experimedia head Jeremy Bible and it has on the inside a fold, hiding the digitally manipulated landscape, to form a pattern in nature, almost an echo of a mandala. However I leave it to you to delve inside this release to find for yourself an interior open to a contemporary rendering of sound, through fragments, construction and meditations on possibilities of form. Innerversitysound
Album art can convey a lot about the music included therein. Case in point: Aaron Martin's latest effort Worried About the Fire. Scattered oak trees amidst falling snow, standing in silence, branches barren save for a few pink leaves, minimal motion as a light breeze passes; anxiety builds. There is beauty in it all, the stillness of things, the anticipation of something major. It is obviously very cold, so why are these trees worrying about a forest fire? Or is it a different kind of fear, Whatever it may be that's scaring the leaves off them, Aaron Martin does an excellent job in portraying the emotions of fear, loneliness, and all around coldness. According to the man himself, this album was made for a short film titled Marked in Dust, and the album actually sounds like music made for film (and yes I'm fully aware that most albums covered by TSB could be described as soundtracks to different things). However, given that there is no information anywhere regarding the nature of said film, we could easily relate the music to the album art. Minimalistic in nature, brimming with tense moments and heavy drones, with the cello at the heart of what's going on, this is definitely Aaron Martin. This time he's taken a slightly different route as the tracks are built around re/de-constructing older material rather than writing new stuff, and this new approach works very well, providing a fresher sound than that of his previous releases. There are even harmonica bits and drones, and even a pleasant piano line in the album closer "Sixth," which are useful additions to his repertoire. Loneliness is one of people's biggest fears, along with the dark and killer rabbits (fact), and it is rated among the top five reasons for committing suicide. It is also a very hard feeling to capture, as it could be mistaken for lots of other unfortunate feelings one might have. Emptiness, isolation, and anxiety are very similar in nature but are entirely different emotions, making it quite an accomplishment for Martin to get at the true heart of loneliness. However, the main problem with the album lies in the fact that it never offers any relief, hammering the audience with continuous sadness, making this the most apt release of the year to be given the "Kill Me Now" award. People generally relate easily to sadder music, that's also why, in my opinion, many choose to veer away from the more miserable forms of music as a way to escape confronting the harsh reality of their average lives. One of this year's top rated albums here at TSB, Daniel Bjaransson's Processions also offers a very bleak view of things, but as Richard Allen stated in his review, "Processions is one musical millimeter away from being too avant-garde, too inaccessible, but the occasional clusters of major notes that comprise its main themes anchor it like a crampon to the ice." Sadly this album lacks those occasional clusters and may seem a bit repetitive at points. A couple of months ago I reviewed Martin's previous release Grass Wounds and stated that his continuous output of music might be his biggest mistake, as he'll lose the element of surprise to his releases. I'm glad he didn't take any of that into account, because this sounds like a step forward, a new discovery in the way he does things which will undoubtedly reflect on his forthcoming releases. A little tweaking, a pinch of experimentation with different instruments and composition, and a touch of glee are probably the main elements that could be added in the future, but so far so good. -Mohammed Ashraf