Posts Tagged ‘ saxon shore

btv077 Denison Witmer : Safe Away LP

Denison Witmer
“Safe Away” (btv077)
Buy Online | LPTrack listing:
1. Steven
2. Breathe In This Life
3. Over My Head
4. This and That
5. Closer to the Sun
6. What Will Stay?
7. Miles
8. Dain
9. Los Angeles
10. Around Everything
11. I Would Call You Now
12. Sarah’s Bridge
13. I Won’t Leave
14. Broken
15. Say You’ll Stick Around
16. Meant to Be
Denison Witmer’s debut album, Safe Away, was recorded in the fall of 1997 with Don Peris (The Innocence Mission) who produced the album and played guitar on many of the album’s simple tracks. Many of these songs were written on an extended trip to Japan during 1996 and 1997 as reflections on many of his experiences and relationships both in Japan and at home. These are heartfelt, deeply emotional and sincere songs of love and broken hearts.

The songs of Safe Away are stripped down, but remain lush and powerful, akin to Mark Kozelek, Harvest-era Neil Young, or Nick Drake, but still unique in their own right. Safe Away is a simply recorded album capturing an airy intimacy and beauty. These recordings remain a favorite of Witmer’s growing fan base.

Witmer originally released Safe Away independently in the early winter of 1998. The album sold quickly through Denison’s touring efforts and went out-of-print. Witmerenlisted the help of his friend Scott French to record two additional songs to add to the album. The additional tracks were captured to 8-track cassette, showcasing the simple beauty of Witmer’s craft.

Denison and Burnt Toast Vinyl’s Scott Hatch met in the fall of 1997 when Hatch did the design for his original self-released edition of Safe AwayWitmer and Hatch became fast friends. Denison also became the building block for Burnt Toast Vinyl: the first artist to tour nationally, the driving force for growing promotion and publicity, and one of the best selling releases. Denison released three full-lengths (Safe Away, Of Joy and Sorrow, Philadelphia Songs), 2 eps (River BendsThe ‘80s), and a live record on Burnt Toast Vinyl. The btv version of Witmer’Safe Away went out of print in cd near the end of 2004. Now, Burnt Toast Vinyl is now proud to issue Safe Away as a special edition 180g virgin vinyl LP. The sparse, yet beautiful recordings sound phenomenal in the deluxe vinyl format.

The Burnt Toast Vinyl/Denison Witmer connection remains strong. He’s toured on several occasions with bands on the label and members of Saxon Shore back him on live tracks on a double cd re-issue of Safe Away released through The Militia Group in late fall 2006, the label that released Denison‘s latest album, Are You a Dreamer?Denison has also recorded with Rosie Thomas and Sufjan Stevens for Rosie’s latest full-length These Friends of Mine. The association with Stevens also provided a perfect opportunity for jokesters Witmer and Thomas to spoof venerable online music magazine Pitchfork into thinking the sessions also spawned a Thomas-Stevens love child.

Denison Witmer has shared the stage with many musicians such as My Morning Jacket, Sufjan Stevens, Joanna Newsom, Anathallo, Saxon Shore, Richard Buckner, Don Peris, The Innocence Mission, Damien Jurado, and Pedro the Lion. He has toured extensively throughout North America and Europe over his career and his Philadelphia Songs and Are You a Dreamer? were both released in Europe by Sweden’s Bad Taste Records.



btv085 Soporus : 24,110 cd

24,110 (btv085)
Buy Online | cd
Track listing:
1. Chalk River
2. Good Luck In Your Road
3. 3.28.79 Part II
4. Project Salt Vault
5. Lelechenky
6. Tokaimura
7. Bragg
8. Peabody
9. Fukushima
10. 3.28.79 Part III
11. Chalk River Part II
As children of the Cold War era, Soporus are heavily influenced by a lifelong fascination with the quiet power of nuclear energy – the seemingly miraculous ability to calmly harness intense reactions coupled with the lingering fear of potential disaster. Soporus continue with the nuclear power plant themes established on their debut ep, Atómové Elektrárne, with their full-length 24,110.

Soporus is a Philadelphia-based ambient drone ensemble which features guitarist and keyboardist Matthew Stone and bassist William Stichter from well-known instrumental act Saxon Shore along with guitarist Stephen Hoffman. Additional guitar tracks were provided on the album by James Vella (Yndi Halda, a lily) and John Donohue. The live performance also features films and videos edited on the fly by additional member Michael Stichter.

24,110 is the half-life in years of the Plutonium-239 isotope. In nuclear fission reactions that take place in a nuclear power plant, plutonium isotopes are a waste product with Plutonium-239 being the largest component. Plutonium-239 is also the main radioactive material in nuclear weaponry. It is that contrast between usefulness and deadliness that frames Soporus’ layered shimmering ambient guitar washes, droning bass, and lush keyboards that meander between quiet, soaring beauty and droning noise. Like the peacefulness of a sleek cooling tower in the distance, slowly billowing out beautiful soft clouds of white steam while the reactor below contains the ingredients that power our society but also have the potential to annihilate us all.

The opening track “Chalk River” refers to a site in Canada which manufactures a large percentage of the world’s supply of medical isotopes. Though chartered to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, Chalk River also supplied substantial amounts of Plutonium-239 to the United States for weapons manufacture during the Cold War.

“Good Luck In Your Road” is the English translation of a sign outside of Pripyat, the site of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, and makes use of Geiger counter sample noise. “Lelechenky” is the name given to an art/dance collective formed by children who survived the Chernobyl disaster. They perform traditional Ukranian dances and sing Ukranian folk songs to raise money for children affected by Chernobyl.

“Tokaimura” is a small Japanese fuel preparation facility. Workers were not properly trained to make a batch of experimental fuel and brought too much enriched uranium together which caused an uncontrolled chain reaction. Over a hundred workers received large doses of radiation and 2 workers died from radiation exposure. “Peabody” is a reference to Robert Peabody who died after an accident at a nuclear power plant fuel facility in Rhode Island in 1964. He is the only person ever killed in an American nuclear accident and the circumstances were similar to the Tokaimura accident. His liquid uranium reached a critical mass and emitted lethal doses of radiation.

“Project Salt Vault” was an experiment to see if spent nuclear fuel rods could be successfully contained deep in a Kansas salt mine. Salt does naturally absorb radiation and the experiment was successful, though the site was abandoned due to concerns that the fuel rods could potentially interact with underground water and oil reservoirs.

“3.28.79 Part II” and “3.28.79 Part III” borrow audio interviews from a repository of almost 300 audio tapes of interviews conducted by Dr. Lonna Malmsheimer and her Dickinson College colleagues soon after the nearby Three Mile nuclear accident. These audio tapes and supporting materials have been made available on the internet to understand the facts of the incident and the varying degrees of public reaction. Matthew Stone grew up in nearby Lebanon, PA and his father recalled being sent home from his work in Harrisburg, PA during the TMI incident. This helped inspire Stone’s interest in nuclear power plant accidents which heavily influence Soporus’ material.

24,110 is dedicated to the spirit of the Lelechenky and to Wladimir Schewtschenko who filmed footage of the Chernobyl accident and died from radiation poisoning (his only protection was a surgical mask and his camera was buried with the rest of Chernobyl’s radioactive debris). The mysterious majesty of 24,110 is a requiem of the aftermath of life and nuclear power

“[Burnt Toast Vinyl's] double-LP set of four new bands–including brilliant ambient duo Soporus–is one of the most memorable releases this year.” – Martin de Leon, XLR8R

“The artists’ ambient and post-rock material is superb…A similar desolation and grandeur haunts the magisterial “3.29.79” and [Soporus'] other pieces are equally beautiful ambient settings.” – Textura




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Circle of Birds
Erik Enocksson
Ester Drang
Farquar Muckenfuss
The Jealous Sound
The Magic Lantern
Questions In Dialect
Ran Away To Sea
Reels of White Softly Flow
Ring Them Bells
Saxon Shore
Sufjan Stevens
Starflyer 59
The Trouble With Sweeney
Unwed Sailor
White Trash Inc. (Orchestra)
Williams Shift
Denison Witmer
Yndi Halda
One Sided LP Series:
Damien Jurado
Early Day Miners
Emperor X
Half-Handed Cloud
Isolation Years
June Panic
Mount Eerie
The Six Parts Seven
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Yume Bitsu