Black Swan - In 8 Movements
LP | BUY
Other albums by Black Swan
The Quiet Divide
Marking a clandestine arrival out of, seemingly, nowhere, Black Swan emerges from the shadowy billows of smoke to immerse listeners in a lucid, cavernous dream, tracing silhouettes in the darkness with drowning ambience and orchestrated drones that screech and howl intermittently amongst the disorienting magnetic tape disturbances. Black Swan operates under a guise of far-away sounds traveling through murky waters, drowning the listener in its heavy-handed layers of ghostly resonance.
Release date: January 14 2011
12inch vinyl LP only limited to 500 copies worlwide.
foxydigitalis.com - 10/10
Black Swan is all about distance—everything from the persona to the cover to the music on this anonymous artist's first LP is meant to play with the edges of perception, expectation, and composition. All of this is handled with an extraordinary degree of maturity and control, resulting in one of the most beautiful and unique listening experiences of the year so far.
Broadly, Black Swan has been categorized as drone (and by the artist as "drones for bleeding hearts"). Mostly, this means coating all sounds in a transfixing, woolly layer of ambience, with "magnetic tape disturbances," crackling, nonmusical sounds, and other textural ephemera offering a unique sound environment in which the musical passages come and go. But if the texture is what sets Black Swan apart from any modern classical work, then what sets it apart from most drone records is that the album is, from start to finish, extremely musical. Oftentimes such and atmospheric work can become tepid and noncommittal, relying on loops or field recordings, or single chords. But the Swan isn't afraid to make real musical decisions and to work with melodies, chords, and other tools to cultivate atmosphere. Like sitting in a church, or walking a long hallway with many rooms, the musical passages are incomplete because they emerge and fade, but within themselves, they are always fully developed.
But the mystery remains mesmerizing. Side A begins with a majestic descending line almost jarring in its beauty, which dissolves away and reprises thrillingly at the very end of side B. At the end of the first side, we hear some plucked and swirling strings that sound like the music to the title sequence of a Warner Brothers cartoon; finally there is rich choral singing. Are these samples from LPs? Are they recorded somehow using a keyboard and processed? At times there seem to be distant guitar drones as well, especially on the darker and more feedback-laden second side. It's impossible to be sure of what sound sources one is hearing at almost any point, but Black Swan keeps the answers within reach—only obscured in the haze of distance that he/she cultivates so deeply. All of these elements hover just out of reach like mirages, and their constant interest is the great triumph of this album, all the way up to the very last sweet, long, serene decay.
Boomkat.com - Album of the week
Majestic and mysterious album of lucid dreamlike dronescapes from an unregistered entity - quite a must for fans of Stars Of The Lid, Leyland Kirby, Phillip Jeck or Indignant Senility. 'Drones For Bleeding Hearts. In 8 Movements' submerses us in a flickering, half-lit world of creaking, unidentified acousmatic sound and orchestrated drones with chillingly tangible atmospherics. When Black Swan drops the temperature, say with a sudden ghoulish howl from the peripheries or a disorientating blast of icy nothingness, you can practically feel your hair moving in kinaesthetic syncopation. To this degree he evokes the psychedelic, gaseous nature of Phillip Jeck's music and also the piloerect effect of Indignant Senility's Wagnerian overtones. But there's something detached, silhouetted and lurking between the lines that suggests something creepier, as though Black Swan is watching you listen to his music with a face caught somewhere between voyeuristic sneer and irreconcilable sorrow. It's too early in the day to be falling into this right now, but once night falls we'd imagine the effect to be massively intensified.
Residentadvisor.com - 4/5
Drifting from start to finish, In 8 Movements is like slowly getting pulled down a drain. Only it isn’t your physicality that moves, but rather the world around you—and somehow your intangible being with it. While the journey is strange enough, there is also an air of mystery around the origins of In 8 Movements: The original Discogs entry used to link to an obscure ‘70s artist on Polydor. Now corrected, there is no information at all, whereas the official website only reveals “drones for bleeding hearts.” (In addition, there have been a host of different versions of In 8 Movements on different labels, including cassettes and limited 7-inch reels.) Sonically, you can draw comparisons between what labels like Type and Kranky often suggest, but none of them fully explain In 8 Movements. The opening movement sounds like Leyland Kirby covering Godspeed You Black Emperor in slow motion, while the second is cavernous and darkly angelic. Somewhere in the middle of this continually evolving album of modern classical/drone, the continuum breaks into grainy strains of “real” music, a classical waltz, then church music that sounds as if it’s coming from another room, until it all fades to grey. There is a feeling of being watched as the climax slowly approaches. Perhaps it is the inkling of spirituality in the distant bells and the edge of voices as they slip away? The fear that there might be something else out there fires a desperate but futile escape, as waves of drones reach a crescendo. Eventually, the reverie is broken. But because it’s such a captivating and powerful work, you’ll likely want to get dragged right back into it yet again.
This gloriously awesome debut from Black Swan just dropped on one of our favorite labels, Experimedia. On 'In 8 Movements', Black Swan takes the listener on an incredibly captivating journey through drone and modern classical that will not soon be forgotten.
Black Swan the musician should not be confused with the forthcoming film of the same name. For while the Darren Aronofsky movie is essentially a tale of identity, the loss of innocence and the battle between dark and light, Black Swan's debut album – 'In 8 Movements'- is an uncompromising study of all that is foreboding about drone music; a relentless auditory creation of shadows, nightmares and doom. In what has become somewhat of a trend within portions of experimental music, key to the output of this artist is his relative anonymity. As we've seen with Burial in the past and more recently with Hummingbird, having little information to go by in many ways allows the music to take centre stage, while the artist builds a rapport of being a mysterious creator lurking behind the sounds. Originally a cassette, limited CD and 7' Reel release, this extended vinyl only version comes courtesy of Experimedia. With two additional tracks, the album runs at approximately 45 mins and is best experienced in a single sitting as one really senses being fully encompassed by the noise and taken in by the unnerving atmosphere that this record possesses. Despite this, as the album's name suggests, the record comprises of eight tracks each around 2 minutes apiece. The album opens with a spiralling sound of humming strings, floated guitar plucks, and a fuzz of drones. This hypnotic quality works well at suturing the listener into the album's moody universe. There is a sense of a setting void of gravity and while choral cries evoke some sense of light, this opening really feels like a journey into a fantastical world of darkness. Indeed, when the chorus dies, it is the work of echoed strings, gloomy glitches and echoes that strips away any sense of hope. Rather like a Lynchian world where things viewed closer are a lot darker than on the surface, the further the listener delves into this journey, the more nightmarish it becomes. At certain points one can hear the muffled noises of a broken orchestra recalling the dystopian qualities of videogames like 'Fallout' and 'Bioshock.' These motifs of a forgotten, brighter existence are placed to offer the listener a sense of a what was before, and their sudden eradication from the musical journey only strengthen the artist's attempts at creating an apocalyptic setting for his listeners to become immersed in. A striking debut that is meticulous in its attention to sound creation, Black Swan's 'In 8 Movements' should appeal to all with a penchant for the darker side of ambient music. One hopes that this artist, who prefers to remain unknown, saves only his physical identity for secrecy and that his musical output has much more presence in the months and years that follow. - Review by Josh Atkin
In 8 Movements from Black Swan—another composer in a recent string with a preference for anonymity—is best experienced in a single, uninterrupted sitting so that one might better immerse oneself in its submerged, even drowned world. It comes into being with a dramatic symphonic flourish reminiscent of Richard Strauss, though one strains to catch the orchestral details in all their clarity when the material is wrapped in a blanket of hiss and crackle so thick it would do Philip Jeck proud. It's with such a memorable beginning that the single-track work sets sail on its winding, forty-four-minute journey through murky and occasionally ominous waters. Moving slowly through fog-drenched territory, the material grows increasingly hallucinatory as the listener is pulled into the vortex of Black Swan's phantom dreamscaping. Passages of classical music samples are woven into shadowy ambient-drone masses that drift in slow-motion; faint traces of violins emerge from the cavernous echo, and celestial choirs can be heard intoning serenely at the center of the haze. In its closing quarter, the piece eventually reaches a state of elegiac resolution and calm that can't help but call to mind Gavin Bryars' The Sinking of the Titanic (the version issued by Touch that features Philip Jeck the most natural reference point in this case) when Black Swan's choir voices rise up from their watery depths. One of the things that helps In 8 Movements stand apart from other classical-ambient recordings is the way in which the material subtly mutates, moving as it does from a classical segment into a drone section, then back again into a different classical passage and so on. As a result, a travelogue feel literally declares itself as the work follows a creeping path that is rarely predictable yet ultimately feels natural.
There is very little information on Black Swan, making it hard to contextualise this album of dark ambient/modern classical. However, the ambiguity works in 'In 8 Movements' favour, heightening the listeners experience and sense of exploration. Parts I and II perpetually descend in a downward spiral, guitar ringing in background, illuminating a cavernous environment. Shifting noticeably in mood, Part III radiates a menancing tension through its dream/nightmare state. Part IV features a ballroom waltz played on what sounds like an antique gramophone. A choir singing an indistinguishable hymn, accompanied by pipe organ on Part VII. These reveal the heart of the story, a historic event seen through the mists of time. 'Lamuria' (a settlement in Kenya's Rift Valley) resurfaces from the depths, showing us daylight again, before the album ends with Black Swan: Where Art Thou, Angels? (Variation in F) - indeed presenting a lighter variation of Part III's central theme. Emotionally and narratively dense, 'In 8 Movements' takes you to some dark place, lets you explore its depths, then allows you to ascend back to the daylight. Similarly affecting to that of Solo Andata's 'Ritual', with more of a feeling of distance between the layers of sound, and all the more murkier. Occupying the same strange presence as God Speed You Black Emperor or Third Eye Foundation, perhaps best not listened to alone for its darkest moments. In 8 Movements is an album of magnitude demanding not to be missed.
Norman Records - "This week's hottest shit"
I dunno about this 'cos it's only been on thirty seconds but I'm looking forward to the film which this has nothing to do with. I mean it's not like I have an unconditional love for Darrenarrenarrenofsky or anything but it doesn't sound like he's fucking about with that one. OK, I'm starting to see what's going on here.. Total eerie, ghostly, shivers down the backiness. I guess it falls broadly into the field of ambient drone but there's FAR more going on here than pretty much any of the stuff that generally waddles into the category. It's like listening to a Stone Tape playback of an orchestra slowly turning phantom or something. Molasses thick with atmosphere and intrigue.. Winner.
I took a fragment of glass about the size of my thumbnail out of my pocket and wiped the blood off it. The little fragment with its smooth hollow reflected the brightening sky. Under the sky stretched the hospital and far away the tree-lined street and the town. The horizon of the shadowy reflected town made a delicate curving line. Its curves were the same, the same as the time I'd almost killed Lilly on the runway in the rain, that white curved line that burned for an instant with the thunder. Like the wave-filled foggy horizon of the sea, like a woman's white arm, a gentle curve. All the time, since I didn't know when, I'd been surrounded by this whitish curving. The fragment of glass with the blood on its edge, as it soaked up the dawn air, was almost transparent. It was a boundless blue, almost transparent. I stood up, and as I walked toward my own apartment, I thought, I want to become like this glass. And then I want to reflect this smooth white curving myself. I want to show other people these splendid curves reflected in me.
It's easy to appreciate an album that can take so many shapes, and mean so many different things to a wide variety of people, touching upon feelings and emotions across a wide spectrum. Case in point: Black Swan's Black Swan (In 8 Movements). Black Swan is so sprawling, so intrinsically vast and subdued, that the very essence of what it is becomes enigmatic, lost in a deluge of soundscaping, obfuscated amongst the converging atmospheres. And what is Black Swan exactly? Is it artistic expression in its purest form, or is a pretentious attempt at achieving something falsely profound? Whatever it may be, the album's appeal lies in its lack of appeal, as daring listeners will find much to adore. As stated previously, Black Swan will be a different kind of album-a different experience entirely-for every individual who listens to it. Do with it what you please, and the album will surely oblige. Whether it be needed for background music, concentration, or intent listening, the album can be utilized for so much, that its multi-faceted nature is the very reason worth indulging into the void that is the album's core. On the surface of things, Black Swan is nothing particularly arresting, trading rhythms and melody for pure unadulterated atmosphere. It's a dense, dark, suffocating affair, filled to the brim with intensely layered moods and textures. While the separate aspects aren't spectacularly complex, the album is held up by the strength of the multifariousness of its components. The album is either an incredibly unsettling experience; a terrifying excursion into the murky hollowness that is Black Swan, or a wonderful musical journey unlike any other. At first listen, the record may seem like a droning mess of ill thought out ambiance, completely convoluted and contrived. The initial reaction may even be one of disdain and boredom, however, subsequent listens reveal that Black Swan requires quite a bit of time and patience to uncover all it has to offer. The idea to separate the album into eight distinct movements was a great move, allowing for a more cohesive experience throughout. It's staggeringly unappealing to those unfamiliar with this type of music, and the breaking down of the long form composition into segments was a bold choice, but it works superbly well. The movements are not entirely different from one another, especially during the album's midsection, but they offer up enough variety to make it largely interesting. The movements ebb and flow seamlessly, making Black Swan feel much more organic, seemingly acting like a living, breathing organism. Black Swan isn't expressly beautiful, as there is not an abundance of melodies or harmonies per se. Practical instruments are almost exclusively replaced by electronics and sampling, with the product feeling much warmer than one would expect. It is far removed from the cold sterility of many of its contemporaries. The album could be described as something between ambient and drone, with emphasis on the atmosphere rather than on the song structure itself. Although there are eight distinct movements, the ambient atmosphere is prevalent throughout. However, it is the small details that make the album exceptional. The mesmerizing chorus featured on the seventh movement is a highlight, even though it is very subdued and low key. Other minuscule additions make the entire package feel fully fleshed out, as a lot of time and care when into its creation. The production is solid, as it allows for every minute to be completely absorbing. It's frighteningly immiscible, with the dark, empty void utilizing its enveloping tones to entangle and suffocate, all while being completely entrancing and mesmerizing. This dichotomy is what makes the album so fascinating, so complex, and so immense. However, even with the stunning amount of excellence displayed on Black Swan, the album is obscenely inaccessible. The droning tones and notes will fall on deaf ears, as many are not accustomed to the strange entity that this album is. Yet despite the album being completely unwelcoming, Black Swan will find its niche, discovering a home in the hearts and minds for those willing to explore its veiled complexities and subtle intricacies.
"Black Swan's self-titled debut masterpiece is a blissful, dark and dreamy wall of drowning sounds. Surreal, creepy yet beautiful stuff here! For the likes of Thomas Koner, Stars of the Lid, Brian Eno, The Caretaker, and Godspeed You Black Emperor. Orchestrated drones at it's best."
Silent Ballet - Score: 8/10
Anyone can make ambient music! For proof, listen to this. The line between brilliant and ordinary is not always obvious, but some audio documents are just too amazing to waffle over. Black Swan (In 8 Movements) is an ambient album, but it is unlike any I have had the pleasure of hearing. Black Swan opens with a grandiose swooning of strings, backed by analog crackle and tape hiss. A tempered and drifting klaxon joins in, sounding like a call to freshly deceased spirits to come hither and proceed to the next phase. Black Swan makes the approach to the River Styx sound lovely. One can hear orchestral moments of salvation through a dark fog as well as the tortured screams of the souls of cursed violins. The entire work is colored with a romantic necromancy, standing still in time, neither positive or negative, and unequivocally gorgeous. The mysterious artist behind the Black Swan project could have left this cohesive 33 minute drone symphony in one piece, but the eight intriguing movements are worth isolating. The divisions give the listener a stronger connection to the work by offering a map, like chapters in a book. The piece has such grace and perpetual energy that knowing when a track changes is unnecessary, but the subtle cinematics dictate the movements' divisions. The music is comprised of delicate strings, plaintive piano, plenty of subtle, sonic debris, affected atmospherics, low end drones, and a constantly mutating emotional architecture. This is a deep listening experience, one where the senses are heightened by the parade of deceased symphonies, much like sitting in a forest at night and being aware of all the layers of sound and life. It is difficult to discern whether certain orchestral moments caught in the wind are sampled or not, but at times there are parts that sound like a Disney score trapped in ice, or perhaps a chariot piloted by Debussy passing through a cloudscape high above. By "Part VII" the hypnosis has had plenty of time to take effect, and the music has encouraged the listener to let go and be led into the landscape of the afterlife. Baroque choral voices and organ are suddenly present, opening a massive door that leads deeper into the drone, closer to peace. The power of this drone is in the knowledge of being taken somewhere. This is no half-assed drift - this is walking a path along the arc of Black Swan's exquisite narrative. The anonymity of this New York-based artist has an effect on the listening experience. The music is given the right to exist on its own, as if it had always existed. It stakes its claim in the mind, making the listener a collaborator in a seductive narrative-noire that travels through a hall of horrors and memories, an escort to a final resting place. One might encounter spirit animals, forgotten lovers, faceless apparitions, leviathan rifts, or a cozy blanket of stars. It is easy to become comfortable in the soothing darkness, and when it seems like eternity has arrived, Black Swan pulls the plug. -Nayt Keane