Every reviews about KrysaliSound releases…

A natural oratory style. An electroacoustic guitar coda. C minor augmented, meet e flattened 5th. At least that’s how initial reaction alludes. On Danish artist Paw Grabowski’s second record for the KrysaliSound label – an unofficial paean to the world of electronicised drone guitar music – lies simplicity in wonderfully interwoven layers of melody, even pulses, mixolydian modes and nodules of noodly Earth-defying anti-war gravity.

Over the course of a grassy 30 minute patchwork of drone moss and figures in the vein of Sawako and Loren Connors, the central chords begin to overlap, break down and blend their tracks, as if part of a massive tape machine. It’s an addictive listen, smooth to the touch and evoking memories of log fires, candlelit suppers or rather in Western worlds munchies at midnight with the heating turned up.

While nothing here reinvents, the wheels are intriguingly oiled with guitar minimalism in mind. Significant effort has been made to dampen play the sonic field rather than overcompress it. This gives the music a tendency to become more than just ambience, because it’s unignorable. Then again, honeyed guitar meanderings were always welcome here…



Danish collage artist & musician Paw Grabowski aka øjeRum made his first appearance on KrysaliSound with one of the standout EPs of last year, a reissue of his alternate soundtrack to Chris Marker’s 1962 time travel film La Jetée entitled He remembers there were gardens. He returns with an encore reissue of another øjeRum long form piece, […]

via Stilhedens Strømmen I Fuglenes Blod by øjeRum [KrysaliSound] — Stationary Travels

ØJERUM – Stilhedens Strømmen I Fuglenes Blod (KrysaliSound, 2018) La prolificità di Paw Grabowski si manifesta senza soluzione di continuità attraverso una serie di tracce rese disponibili in formato digitale attraverso la sua pagina Bandcamp, che viaggiano in parallelo rispetto alle sue altrettanto numerose pubblicazioni ufficiali su cassetta o cd-r, tutte sotto l’abituale alias øjeRum. A […]

via — music won’t save you

A wonderful sort of experimental folk emerges on øjeRum’s thoughtful journey of “Stilhedens Strømmen I Fuglenes Blod”. Opting for a tremendous amount of space, the ambition of the album lies within the song’s deliberate pacing. Mysterious to its very core, the way various sounds filter in and out of the mix at times give it a truly fleeting feeling. By opting for such a loose approach, the entire piece gains a mantra-like quality to it, courtesy of the delicate guitar work. Indeed, it is the soothing guitar that ensures the entire thing is able to move forward. With the only rhythm, the heart of it all, the guitar allows for a great deal of emotional impact to enter into the equation.

Subtle shades of vinyl hiss introduce the track. For a while the guitar work has a quality like a record skipping, repeating the same phrase in the same way. This hypnotic aura works wonders in setting the tone for what follows. Gradually elements of drone enter into the equation for everything starts to truly shimmer and shine. By letting things slow down øjeRum can explore every single moment of the sound and do it with the utmost of effectiveness. Building up carefully but never too loudly, an entire world comes into view, one that feels so vast and unknowable yet somehow familiar.

With “Stilhedens Strømmen I Fuglenes Blod” øjeRum delves into a blissful beautiful realm, one that feels soothing and satisfying.


James A. McDermid goes for glowing realms with the soothing ambient washes of “Tonal Glints”. Infused with tremendous melodies, James A. McDermid balances between the real and the imagined. Done with the utmost of grace everything about these pieces teems with such life. Hope radiates out of these small suites, while James A. McDermid employs a series of tactile sounds into the mix ensuring that everything feels living and breathing. Rhythms have a pastoral quality to them, for James A. McDermid eschews percussion. By opting out of a more conventional rhythm means these pieces have a dreamy, hazy quality to them.

Setting a curious opener is the playful music box quality of “The vagabond”. From there things start in earnest with the serene beauty of “All the shutters are closed”. A hazy quality comes to define the entirety of the track, allowing it such tremendous beauty. By far the highlight of the collection it simply washes over in a blissful, half-dreamed sort of way. Elements of folk appear in the ghostly atmosphere of “I’ll take one who loves me”. The spacious “Within reach” goes for a deeper presence, one nearly mystical in tenor. Field recording meets ambient composition on the gentle “If you concede”. Eerie with its otherworldly presence is “I saw red, and through the red, nothing”. Bringing the album to a close the reflective “Faraway Too Close” feels just right.

On “Tonal Glints” James A McDermid explores an entire universe of sound, one that feels so vivid and full of color.


Il musicista di Bristol, James A. McDermid, inizia la sua carriera circa 15 anni fa, ma solo dopo la prematura morte della sorella Harriet trova costanza e ispirazione per i suoi primi lavori più compiuti. Dopo il folk elettronico scarnificato di “Ghost Folk” – ispiratissimo Lp di ben 25 bozzetti pieni di malinconici rimandi alla sofferenza e al senso di vuoto nato dal lutto – è la volta del nuovo “Tonal Glints”, anch’esso figlio dell’elaborazione del dolore e dell’incapacità di razionalizzare un evento tanto traumatico.

James A. McDermid si muove al di là dei classici confini della musica elettronica atmosferica per lambire momenti gothic-dark, dal folk più depresso sino al post-rock in stile Labradford. Le dodici tracce passano da ricerche timbriche di synth spettrali (le campane in lontananza di “The Vagabond”) a più classici crescendi ambient di “All The Shutters Are Closed” (inizio elettroacustico e imponente muro sonoro finale con cori femminili).
Momenti poetici si sviluppano quando McDermid imbraccia la chitarra acustica per tracciare un percorso di folk atmosferico intimista (“I’ll Take One Who loves Me”) di notevole impatto emotivo. Gli episodi più oscuri rimandano invece alle tenebrose sonorità dark di Elegi (“Last Year”) o alle dissonanze del Tim Hecker di “Ravedeath, 1972” (“Worse Than The Last Look” e “I Put The Letter In My Pocket”).

Tra brevi abbozzi di musique concrete (“Bunny”) e ambient dilatato in stile Hammock(“Within Reach”), spicca il post-rock, parente strettissimo dell’approccio dark con voce sussurrata dei Labradford, di “If You Concede”. Sussurro che diventa una sorta di preghiera laica che non ha bisogno di urlare le proprie certezze, perché è solo un tentativo per esorcizzare i propri incubi, non ostentazione di una pseudo-verità precostituita.
Si chiude con “Faraway Too Close”, straziante texture di synth con dialoghi impercettibili e finale liberatorio con poche note di piano a creare uno squarcio di luce nelle tenebre. James A. McDermid sembra salutare un’ultima volta la sorella per dirci che la vita, nonostante tutto, deve andare avanti.



[krysalisound] Un turbine di emozioni pesanti come piombo tradotti in catartiche sculture sonore. È il dolore profondo per una prematura assenza che spinge James A. McDermid a strutturare in opera concreta il suo approccio alla musica trasformandolo in gesto necessario per riuscire a superare la perdita della sorella. Un’urgenza espressiva che origina un trittico di […]

via james a. mcdermid “tonal glints” — SoWhat

My sister is my only sibling; I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose her.  Two years ago, James A. McDermid experienced the unimaginable.  The loss of Harriet (1975-2016) left a huge hole in his life, and ever since then music has been his lighthouse in a sea of grief.  Tonal Glints is the second of two albums released in her honor, following last year’s Ghost Folk on Polar Seas.  The new album has half as many tracks but is no less powerful.  It represents a time in which the sorrow has reached the marrow.

McDermid cites Sophie Calle’s Exquisite Pain as one inspiration.  In that multi-media book, the artist pairs photographs with personal answers to the question, “When did you most suffer?”  One of the conclusions she seems to reach is that great suffering can lead to great art (although most would prefer not to have paid the price).  McDermid channels his emotions into his music, and creates an echo of his sister’s life through the lens of loss.

Although primarily ambient, the music touches upon other genres as well, the opening chimes like field recordings, the highlight track “All the shutters are closed” an excursion into drone, the languid “I’ll take one who loves me” beginning like folk music before disintegrating into fog.  But despite the changes in texture and instrument, the pensive tone remains the same.  This is music about getting up in the afternoon when one had planned to get up in the morning, but staying the course long enough to get one little thing done.  It’s music that whispers at a bedside so as not to disturb a loved one’s sleep.  When words do emerge (“Within reach”), they dangle just beyond reach, like reminders in the clouds.  Strangely, the album seems neither mournful nor cheerful, but stuck, attempting to pull its legs from the quicksand of grief.  And yet we know that the album is evidence of the opposite: an artist fighting against torpor and ever-so-slowly succeeding.

Tonal Glints is about Harriet, but also about James, and the ties that bind, even beyond death.  It’s a beautiful testimony about a continuing relationship, one sibling gone and yet not-gone.  We can look through this window and almost see her; but in this case, even a glint is a blessing.  (Richard Allen)


From the off ‘Tonal Glints’ by James A. McDermid is peppered with hoity-toity spice appeal in its synthesizer sheen about the place. Soft and focused hues spell interstellar gravitation like landing on the moon with rollerblades on. The fruit from booting up disk drives comes as a tuneful adage to the restorative space ambient hummus that is moreish and plentifully stocked in the ambient universe. What extrapolates James level from this record is going doolally with melody love.

James A. McDermid has here created music that is woozy and absorbant in its earworm drones, a noughties Steve Roach who has more of a focus on action over drift. The music paddles along in swathes of reverb until it reaches another wormhole in the cosmos. Brief drone oxygenation occurs a little at each turn; what this means for the listeners is an exciting set of deep and holistic musical graduals that are easy to follow and bri?liant to digest, swimming their way to spiritual execution.

There is a certain state of exegesis within the lines… a type of fractal poetry that breaks down expectations of where things are going next. It can be described as aspects of “chance, trance, goa music style” in the overall nomination of major and lack of suspended scales. Goa trance is like this drone example, in that sense; it is full of over-arched confluence, and that confluence – the ability to retain ideas – is the reason the music works so well.

What works best from “Tonal Glints” is its mature and researched enveloping of a pre-existing ambient sound palette. With choral vocals added to the mix here and there, the album approaches Hammock tenderness and anti-virtuous richness. While some might say it’s a little lost in it’s own shadow at present, give this stuff time – it could grow on you like a soft woolly jumper. Lovely heartwarming stuff, KrysaliSound sate electronic-acoustic sunshine with this release.


In recent weeks, my daily efforts seem to nudge towards my writing career more than my work for Merchants Of Air. In a way, that is a good evolution, certainly from a professional standpoint. However, I missed writing about brilliant new albums, and especially about albums that play a certain role in my other writings. This one by James A. McDermid has been playing quite a few times in the past few days. It accompagnied me while I created a new chapter in my ‘Unwasted Years’ project, thus it serves as some sort of inspiration. I said it before and I’ll say it again, that is what good albums do: inspire people. Therefore it’s certainly good enough to be reviewed.

Of course, James A. McDermid is no stranger to Merchants Of Air. Last April I reviewed his ‘Ghost Folk’ album, which had been released on Polar Seas Records (read). Now, the Bristol, England resident returns with a brand new set of instrumentals. Like ‘Ghost Folk’, this album is dedicated to McDermid’s sister Harriet, who passed away in August 2016. In these twelve tracks he tries to cope with the loss and the grief. You can also hear that. Although I tagged this as “ambient” most of the songs here are vague, subdued pieces of music, influenced by folk, ambient and post rock. You can hear sad guitars, gloomy soundscapes and a deeply introvert atmosphere.

I found it hard to pick a favorite track on this album, but I guess that’s just my massive adoration for ambient music. ‘Within Reach’ is a certain candidate for that spot, but so is the dark and droning ‘If You Concede’ and the lingering ‘All The Shutters Are Closed’. In all, obviously, this is a splendid album, a very emotional too. I’m certain that all of these tracks will appear in my day-to-day playlist from now on, along with their predecessors of ‘Ghost Folk’. Some of these songs will probably function as inspiration again as they are perfect mood setters. So yes, this album comes highly recommended to all ambient aficionados out there.