"... creating the same sort of bleak cityscape that's been visually documented in films like Taxi Driver, but soundtracked in a manner that is simultaneously nostalgic and modern." - Other Music
"... breathtaking. It's like listening to the movie soundtracks of Brad Fiedel, Vangelis and John Carpenter whilst walking around your local city centre on a late night shopping..." - The London Times
"...strangely solemn narratives that leave you believing - like in a great film by Hitchcock or Lynch - that there are fewer things more compelling than mysteries contained in the human heart." - XLR8R
"The languid pace, microscopic melodies, simple heartbeatlike rhythms and occasional use of drone are both riveting and soothing, begging to be listened to attentively but, at the same time, gently caressing the listener..."
- Time Out New York
"Honig's attention to detail is just staggering... seemingly filling up acres of space with droves of delicate sonic minutiae all moving around in a carefully choreographed pattern." - Boomkat
Reviews for Folding In On Itself
Folding In On Itself is Ezekiel Honig's sixth album, but marks his debut release for experimental label Type. Moody ambient interlaced with found sounds, minimal techno beats and dub-y, rumbling bass all weave in and out of the intricate soundscapes. For this album, the Anticipate label boss uses sound samples recorded in his native NYC, adding layers on top to create a beautiful, unrelentingly melancholic work. The end result is so delicate that you feel if you touch it, it may disintegrate into dust between your fingers. The album concerns itself with memory and impermanence, and the just within reach melodies echo this concept perfectly, like some nagging thought that lurks just beyond realization. Folding In On Itself is a treasure, one that could easily be overlooked if not given the close attention it deserves. This is perfect headphone listening for a grey, rainy day in the city.
New York spectral soundscape composer Ezekiel Honig has crafted a gorgeous offering on Type that ably merges washed-out, processed field recordings of urban mundanity to soft, sparse electronic pulsations and beds of gauzy synth pads, creating the same sort of bleak cityscape that's been visually documented in films like Taxi Driver, but soundtracked in a manner that is simultaneously nostalgic and modern. It evokes the likes of Fennesz, Pole, Moritz Von Oswald, and William Basinski while never exactly sounding like any of them; it speaks the same language in which records like The Disintegration Loops or Endless Summer are well versed, but phrases its context in tones that use dub mixology, minimal techno, and ambient drift in equal measure. Folding in on Itself is an absolutely gorgeous recording, a rare electronic album imbued with a sense of intimacy crafted for late nights or early mornings, or those moments when you find yourself alone, reflecting, but it's also a quiet record that begs to be played as loudly as you can manage. The devil is in the details, as they say, and this album's detailed heartbeat grows fonder with each listen. If you're a fan of the records I've mentioned, check this without hesitation; it's perhaps Honig's best work yet, and deserves your attention.
We were really happy to see that Type has added Ezekiel Honig to their great roster, as he's someone whose been making fractured, fragile sounds over the last several years with such great results. His latest shows how masterful he is at crafting dreamy and drifty soundscapes with such a subtle touch. In many ways it's the subtlety of his work that really allows the listener to slowly get lost in the haze and sway of the tracks on Folding In On Itself. Like the most delicate moments on records by Machinefabriek, Jasper TX, Philip Jeck, William Basinski and Fennesz, and with the dream world atmosphere found on recordings by Colleen, Mum, and Koss... This has been our early morning and go to bed soundtrack, as it's just so perfect in slowly transporting you to a softer, dreamier dimension. Understated, shimmering beauty.
Ezekiel Honig is a musician of outstanding reach possessing both technical and theoretical scope. His previous record, Surfaces Of A Broken Marching Band, was about nature. Indeed, many of his records are about nature. Folding In On Itself marks a cute shift being just as much about the human psyche and consciousness as it is anthropology and the city. Honig's records create twilight worlds, he collages different facets of our lives and presents them as one geographically reconstructed reality, resulting in the most beautiful of amalgamated soundscapes, each recording constructing a new sonic space.
The album's opening track, 'Material Wrinkle', allows the sound to slip in and out of realities: there's the voyeurism (for want of a better word) of hearing light, metallic objects being moved; truncated television loops entering and leaving the soundscape; drones of city life augmented to sweet fantasy, then deconstructed by the internal techno pulses. Following track 'Subverting The Memory Of Your Surrounding' illustrates just as much in the title whilst extending to the aesthetic with a heartbeat pulse driving the track. With this compartmental approach Honig explicitly illustrates how he has established contrasting forms to capture humans as sensorial agents from the perspectives of the subjective, the physical and surrounding objects.
Typically each track here takes on three aesthetic styles: there's the environmental sounds, usually marked with cavernous echoes and muffled white noise; there's the rich "musical" textures which carry a tangible tone of loving digital polish; and the comet tail sustains which remember headaches as much as meditative states.
Through collage the "found sounds" form a new reality with Honig engaging in deep artistic and artisanal practices. With all layers tending towards warm sound, Folding In On Itself makes for seductive listening. Honig clearly signposts these layers, and as well as working in contrast with each other it's the more mastered, laboured effects that supply the record's core structure with the low-fidelity recordings providing novelty (ghostly, at a push).
Strangely, and akin to Susan Hiller's anthropological curation piece, Dedicated To The Unknown Artists 1972 - 76, Honig declines from taking on any characterised narrative; the music never employs a protagonist. Hiller's piece (an assortment of postcards featuring rough seas battering coastal tourist towns of Britain), comparatively, doesn't engage in the representations of humans within the work. Equally Honig prefers to leave the anthropology central to the work, so any human life captured within it is as much about the recording as it is the subject. What results is that we hear an impression of a macro reality through the recordings from habitual individuals - depriving us of a protagonist.
The nearest we come to one is on stand-out track 'Between Bridges' which contains vocals so chopped (recalling fellow Type artist Sylvain Chauveau's 'Composition 8') that they compliment the rhythm above the melody. Additionally, giving the record some investigative thought there are a couple of things we learn about the character(s): they watch TV, they play squash, they take the train and live in an urbane area - half-baked and banal at best. The lack of denizen to hold your hand as the record propels you blindfolded across Metro lines and busy streets, through workhouses and sports courts makes for a bewildering, and solitary, listen.
Folding In On Itself may not be a particularly lucid piece. It becomes difficult to realise the proposed landscape as recordings from NYC are cut against others from Poland and Italy, leaving the record to exist between skies to much of its detriment. Sonically the album is consistent in tone and pace with an intoxicating lushness throughout: the heady hypnosis, the robust piano tones and the romantic recordings of NYC L-trains. To reject the record for being flawed on an analytical level, or to highlight its superficiality would be ridiculous as both of these features add to the wild and unqualified synthetic wonderland which Honig realises so brilliantly.
Reviews for Surfaces of a Broken Marching Band
Ezekiel Honig's Surfaces of a Broken Marching Band is a symphony transmitted from the bottom of the sea. Cold and murky, it's warmed by sudden currents and shifts of sediment from the ocean bed, kicking up brief flickers of light and sound that you notice whether or not you catch the disturbances that created them. Just listen to the way "Past Tense Kitchen Movement" drifts without any heed to time, cloaking the listener in its cozy drowse before clanging him back to sense: a clatter of rusty bars ringing out into this buried infinitude, bubbles and drones issuing from the first tremor that set everything else in motion.
These images are mine though. Ezekiel Honig has his own. They provide the title for his fantastic new album and first for his own Anticipate label, Surfaces of a Broken Marching Band. Described as a work based on a once-dissolved band that's been pieced back together, the album sways between moments of studious musique concrète and shutter-lit urban ambience to pretty lively field recordings of busy public spaces, which lend the album the cheer of soft chatter. Honig uses manipulated guitar, horns, piano and plenty of found sound elements to construct a delicate atmosphere that, for all of its quiet, seems in steady flux.
Honig grounds his compositions in beats that are stockier than they appear from the top, without simply easing them into the steady, Gassy 4/4 throb. His rhythms are tactile and born of natural sources, from sparse ticks to muscular wooden bangs. "Broken Marching Band," for example, feels downright dubby in comparison to most electro-acoustic backdrops, its rhythms like a fat man out of breath aside what might be warbling horns and clips of children. Free of original sources, the recordings give Honig's composition an effervescence belied by its stern percussion.
But perhaps "A Brief Visual Pattern" gets at the dissolute element of Honig's title best. Resonant piano notes and pulses of muted noise spread into clicky stutter beats as shadow objects and desktop things fall to the floor in the background. "Material Instrument 1" is wistful, its re-pitched guitars cushioning bell-tones that are like coins dropped in a jar, muted but melodic. Partner "Material Instrument 2" plays up a sneaky friction between Honig's samples from a crowded room and metallic scraping. Honig unveils its fragile center just as this disorientation threatens to tip you over. It's an anthill symphony, one of small autumnal noise that illustrates his talent for giving the surface-pretty astounding nuance. In a creation like Surfaces of a Broken Marching Band which relies on such elusive drifts for locomotion, Honig's sure-handed subtlety is marked enough for declarative moments on my part: there hasn't been a better "ambient" album this year.
Ezekiel Honig's latest album is a gloriously captivating excursion through deep rhythmic structures, cataclysmic audio sequences and soft, melodic vibrations. Though these descriptors might seem ambiguous, perhaps even contradictory, Surfaces of a Broken Marching Band truly embraces them all. This release is a follow up to his 2006 effort Scattered Practices, and in that time Honig has continued to develop a distinct voice in his compositions.
The subterranean hum of 'Broken Marching Band' sets the tone for the rest of the piece, a gentle thud in and out providing the driving force behind the track. Influences are scattered here; there's the measured beats borrowed from more minimal tech sounds, and there's the diffused found sounds that are more characteristic of ambient experimental works. All in all, their fusion works due to Honig's understated production. It's the sort of delicate touch that brings names like Jan Jelinek and Max Richter to mind, in terms of how each track is carefully structured in relation to the album as a whole.
Surfaces of a Broken Marching Band is also, in a sense, a reflection upon the development of Honig's Anticipate label. 'Displacement' is the most straightforward in its connection to this theme, a gentle swathe of piano sitting astride an astringent hiss that keeps building, adding layer on layer to the sound but never settling or climaxing. No other word but 'hypnotic' can come to mind when attempting to describe the sensation matched to tracks like 'Porchside Economics'. There is a wealth of beauty invested in this album, and the payoff is incredibly rewarding. Superlatives they may be, but for all this praise, nothing can come close to describing just how amazing this release really is.
Ezekiel Honig's second full-length release on his own Anticipate imprint is more confident, accomplished, and, best of all, darker and sadder than 2003's melancholy ambient techno dub Technology is Lonely. Honig sets the mood just right on the monochromatic "Porchside Prologue," then bounces into a murky shuffle on both "Broken Marching Band" and "A Brief Visual Pattern." On each track, he uses field recordings and studio effects, a progression of ascending synth chords and a surprisingly robust bassline to create strangely solemn narratives that leave you believing - like in a great film by Hitchcock or Lynch - that there are fewer things more compelling than mysteries contained in the human heart.
New Yorker Ezekel Honig's ambient music does what the genre promises but often fails to deliver: through careful arrangement of and attention to sonorous material, it creates an environment that's quietly seductive and almost supine. Its attention to texture is finely detailed, but it's not showy about its exacting nature. Rather, on Surfaces of a Broken Marching Band, Honig proceeds as though he's tip-toeing through rooms, across floorboards, carefully collecting and placing sonic objects and arranging them into new, vaguely odd formations. It's music for the hypnagogic state, existing somewhere between wake and dream, and like the best ambient, it functions to tint the air and yields rewards upon close attention.
Part of the evocative power of Honig's music is down to his use of field recordings. His approach is much subtler than many, as he generally doesn't use them to build narratives; rather, they're placed sensitively, threaded through muted, blocky rhythms (that remind a little of an updated version of the Young Marble Giants' super-minimalist drum machine), and tangled with pads, chords, and almost-melodies that are often muffled or muted. The field recordings have a touch of the objet trouvé about them, as Honig creates art from found sounds here. But he also wrings these field recordings for their emotional qualities -- the muted rustle of a passing train, or the restful patter of rain on tin, are rendered rich with pathos through their careful juxtaposition with Honig's exercises in melancholy.
But the overarching mood of Surfaces of a Broken Marching Band is not one of overt sadness or mournfulness, even though it often progresses at a stately, almost funereal pace. Rather, Honig aims for something slightly more ambivalent. At its most, as on "Porchside Economics" or "Past Tense Kitchen Movement," Surfaces is wistful, nostalgic, but nostalgic for an undefined time, as though Honig's memories are fleeting and he's trying to memorialise them through sound. This reminds me of several predecessors, from Klimek, whose stuttering, shaky Pop Ambient studies inhabit a similar state of suspension, through Brian Eno's On Land and the instrumental interludes of Another Green World; maybe there's also a touch of the ghostly Other that inhabits Boards Of Canada, though stripped of the sickly-sweet childishness. Some of the guitar interludes hang notes in the air much like Americana figures Steven R. Smith or Scott Tuma, too. But Honig's onto his own thing here -- ambience that cocoons you, slow - freezes you in shades of gray.
It's actually something of a surprise that Ezekiel Honig hasn't released something on Anticipate sooner than this, but Surfaces Of A Broken Marching Band does in fact mark the debut outing for the producer on this, the label he runs. Arriving as a follow-up to 2006's Scattered Practices, released on Microcosm Music, this album is conceived as the sound of a band that's been dismantled and put back together again in a different shape, with the smaller, incidental background noises taking up the foreground while the soft patter of dissolved beats seems to drift off into the middle distance. Honig's attention to detail is just staggering over the course of 'Porchside Economics', seemingly filling up acres of space with droves of delicate sonic minutiae all moving around in a carefully choreographed pattern. This is ambient music that brings together the precision engineering of a Biosphere record with the scale and emotional resonance of a Stars Of The Lid release. Elsewhere, 'Displacement' swells with vaporous drones and shuffled piano chords while 'Material Instrument 2' conjures an incredibly vivid sense of location thanks to some lively field recordings, all leant an extra gravitas by an evocative and impressionistic use of digital manipulation and submerged tones. It's hard to put your finger on exactly what makes Surfaces Of A Broken Marching Band such a freakishly good ambient record, but its success must be at least partly attributable to the immersive depth of Honig's ornate production style. Brilliant, and the sort of record you could recommend to just about anyone with an interest in electronic music...
These days it can rather difficult to dig out really good new electronic music. Sure there's plenty of throbbing techno coming out of Berlin and the noise set are doing their bit to re-engage fans of Tangerine Dream et al, but the sort of electronica that filled the shelves at the turn of the century is almost nowhere to be seen. Maybe this is a good thing, because it makes it all the more special to hear this fabulous record from New Yorker Ezekiel Honig, an artist who understands how to make truly great electronic music. Absent is the tiresome trickery of the Warp-endorsed old guard and we are instead treated to a selection of impeccably crafted tracks, clever yet unpretentious and warm without ever being sugary. This isn't Zeke's first record, but it is without a doubt his most complete as he submerges the rhythmic elements ever deeper into the mix, allowing the gorgeous progressions and thoughtful field recordings to take center stage. "Field recordings and ambience," I already know what you're thinking but Zeke's music is far from cliched, and anything but 'another' drone record. His are short, concise and studied pieces, their structure at times owing more to pop music than Pop Ambient and Zeke's choice of sounds is nothing short of masterful. Just listen to the album's highlight "Broken Marching Band" with its effortless 4/4 throb, unusual environmental sound and simply heart-stopping harmonies. Almost Rhodes-like in its warm tone the synthesizer drifts and falls across the subtle clatter of some sort of sampled percussion (is it a clock ticking? A coin rattling? Who knows) and the track unfolds delicately over a brief (in today's terms) five minutes. There are those out there who are convinced that electronic music is a lifeless, robotic affair without anything like a semblance of soul or verve, but Zeke's music is the antidote to this. Organic is a word that has been overused, but these tracks teem with life, and as each track drifts into the next there's never a sense that the human element has been disengaged from the zeroes and ones. A hearty recommendation.
Reviews for Scattered Practices:
It's not every day that an album references a mid-20th century Jesuit cultural theorist -- but Ezekiel Honig, the electronic composer and performer who helms the Microcosm Music label, is not your everyday artist. The liner notes on his second solo LP, Scattered Practices, cite Michel de Certeau, who mused on the ways in which people transform common experiences -- interacting with material objects, interpreting language and the like -- from the universal to the personal. In Honig's case, that means manipulating found sounds into barely recognizable tones, then melding them to warm Rhodes piano and barely-there percussion. Rather then being abstract and heady, though, Scattered Practices is a dreamlike, inviting and charming work.
Honig's debut album, 2004's People Places & Things, roamed the same softly ambient territory, but Scattered Practices is even more intimate, coming off as a wordless universal lullaby for the electronic age. The languid pace, microscopic melodies, simple heartbeatlike rhythms and occasional use of drone are both riveting and soothing, begging to be listened to attentively but, at the same time, gently caressing the listener into a contemplative state of Zen. And, despite the minimalist trapping, the album is surprisingly lush: "Fractures and Fissures (part 2)," for instance. consists of only two chords, overlaid with a plaintive three-note melody, a bit of crackle and a touch of background hum. But, as with the rest of Scattered Practices, that's more than enough to evoke a wealth of feeling.
(Bruce Tantum - Time Out New York)
While his debut album, People Places and Things, found New York-based producer Ezekiel Honig working from a similar palette of warm, ambient tones and gentle 4/4 pulses, Scattered Practices shows him operating at a more intimate -- even microscopic -- level. Along with Rhodes and synthesizer, Honig uses defamiliarized samples culled from everyday life, crafting gentle, childlike melodies that nod ever so slightly towards Boards of Canada's Music Has the Right to Children. Despite his grounding in techno, Honig appears to move away from traditional loop-based compositions, notably on "Fractures and Fissures" and "Concrete and Plastic," in which his tones seep, branch, and bubble in organic fashion. Leaving loop-finding to the likes of Jan Jelinek, Honig's more esoteric search yields a comparably meticulous level of detail.
(Colin James Nagy - Flavorpill)
Microcosm Music's logo has more color and shapes than Kompakt's singular dot, but it is nearly as iconic in its elegant shorthand: crisp and linear, it features a small metropolis crammed inside of a cardboard box ready for freight shipping or living room assembly. It is the picture of media. No surprise, then, to discover that Germany's premiere minimalist repository is also one of MM's distributors. In fact, the fuzzy incandescence and stealth activity of Ezekiel Honig's Scattered Practices is a suitable score for the tired calm that follows melted eardrums and sore muscles caused by too many hours of 4/4 chug. Its 10 tracks drift to a faint cardiac throb that often recycles rippling timbres and shivering strands of glitch. Grooves are found and disintegrated. Sheared of peaks and dips, Scattered Practices hums along like the fuzzy murmur of a tireless CPU.
The tinkling patter of random clicks and trimmed, sputtering tips of rhythm pop out from the album's carbonated silence. There are loops of field recorded voices that crackle like other "Homemade Debris," as the album's nine-minute plus centerpiece is titled, such as jingling pocket jangle, creaking floors, rattling aerosol cans and swishing drawers. Splashes of aquatic distortion shimmer in the distance, notably on opener "Going Sailing Refrain 1" and its subsequent sequels, but the most salient melodic presence is found in a purring fog that continually drizzles somber chords over the twinkling currents of crunched pixels. That said, Scattered Practices does not have the feel of tampered data but the lived-in texture of a still warm, just worn t-shirt.
(Bernardo Rondeau - Dusted Magazine)
New York City-based minimal electronic producer Ezekiel Honig has previously released several albums both on his own and alongside regular collaborator Morgan Packard, and Scattered Practices, released through his Microcosm label, shows him continuing to move away from loop-based compositions in favor of warm ambience. Apparently inspired by Michel de Certeau's philosophical treatise The Practice of Everyday Life, which examines how individuals personalize and transform elements of mass culture, this fourth album sees Honig manipulating mundane sounds so that their identity is completely obscured. In this case, the focus is distinctly on gently pulsing glitch-ridden ambient soundscapes in a vein not completely dissimilar to Farben or Isan.
The gorgeous 9-minute centerpiece track "Homemade Debris" provides a perfect illustration of this approach, as muffled Fender Rhodes chords gently bleed through gossamer layers of digital filtering and slightly off-centre pinprick micro-rhythms, the occasional presence of subtle DSP processing crackling like the stray rustle of leaves at the very edges of awareness. The almost subliminal presence of micro-house beats throughout much of the material here certainly tips its hat towards Honig's more techno-centred beginnings, but Scattered Practices is certainly his most personal and openly emotive collection to date.
Ezekiel Honig's skill lies in being able to reproduce depth, beauty and minimalism in a subtle 4/4 environment. All of his more laid-back recordings so far have had a distinct trademark feel and this CD is no exception. I find myself putting it in the Electronica section even though it's mostly a rhythmic work. Muted, sub-aquatic chords and textures and gently lilting melodies combine with the most delicate of drum progamming to give you a serene sense of warmth, yet a beautiful fragility at the same time. and coupled with several beatless tracks as well you'll find this a soothing work. An exquisite and tranquil piece of music that transcends merely being Techno or Electronica. Highly recommended indeed.
Each of these 10 atmospheric but oddly rhythmic tracks by New Yorker Ezekiel Honig takes aim for the heart as much as the head. It's an emotionally bumpy ride through ashen dubscapes built with found sounds, lumbering bass lines and microscopic beats that kick, sizzle and then disappear into the murky light.
Reviews for Early Morning Migration:
An ongoing stream of ambient sounds gives Early Morning Migration, a collaborative outing from Morgan Packard and Microcosm label head Ezekiel Honig, a natural, outdoorsy dimension. Though most of these noises are more allusive than literal, they still evoke the lake and forest; soft waves appear alongside the hazy keyboard glimmerings of "Planting Broken Branches Pt. 2," for example, while creaking and water noises in "Window Nature" suggest fishing boats leaving port at sunrise. Such environmental detail gives the work an expansive dimension that contrasts with the music's introspective and comparatively more hermetic leanings.
Collaborative in this case doesn't mean the two artists worked together on a given piece; instead, their separately created songs often alternate in sequence and, while that might be jarring in other contexts, it isn't the case here; despite different compositional styles, they share a kindred sonic sensibility, clearly shown in the opening songs. Embedded in ambient blur, "Tropical Ridges" gently rolls in with Honig's glowing Rhodes chords floating lazily above a shuffling pulse. The following piece "Balm" is Packard's and, while it's slightly more ambient than Honig's, there's little sonic difference. The major deviation from this unanimity occurs when horn sounds add contrast to the gossamer shimmer of Packard's "White on White."
With their subtle hint of techno, Honig's minimal pieces tend to be slightly more song-like while Packard's are closer to classically-influenced ambient settings. Honig's material often hews to a clanking 4/4 pulse with melodies etched by warm keyboard tones. Prodded by a whirring creak, a subtly swaying skip animates "A Lake of Suggestions Pt. 1" (and reappears in "Planting Broken Branches Pt. 1") while Packard's "Hibernate," by comparison, toes a still placid though more static line with its waves of hiss and intermingling of acoustic bass lines and minimal Rhodes melodies. Those differences recede in other songs, however, like Packard's gently pulsing "Billow" and Honig's "A Lake of Suggestions Pt. 2," an ambient exercise in fluttering textures. That sound flows into the final piece, Packard's almost eleven-minute "A Long Time Ago," a meditative soundscape of hazy surges and shudders that brings Early Morning Migration to a dreamy close. Names like Eno and Harold Budd may come to mind as one basks in the understated and carefully sculpted beauty of Honig and Packard's work.
Here comes the first remarkable release in a while the realm of minimal electronic music between abstract, reduced rhythms and floating ambient has to offer. Ezekiel Honig and Morgan Packard are two young creators from NYC who have gained reputation with their not necessarrily similar previous solo work, and this is their first collaborative attempt. "Early Morning..." consists of both quiet, soundscape kind of elements and traces of dynamic dance music, whereas the point that both beats and melodies are kept so low-key and fragile that the CD never really takes off is exactly what makes it such an exciting listen. A welcome change from the dubby experimentation that's become so abundant in this genre, the faint rhythms and beautiful textures that at once support and seemingly subdue each other form a refreshingly new, original type of music. Available from the label's online shop.
This first collaboration by North Americans Honig and Packard has refused to give up its complexities after days of repeated playing. Ezekiel Honig confesses that the pieces on this CD are inspired by weather and nature, but also conceal a blizzard of musique concrete sources and treated domestic sounds that would even confound a serial avant-garde noise truffle hound. Honig further confesses that some of the treated noises include dropped plastic bottles, rain, microphone stands falling over, crackling fires (shades of John Cage's Inlets) and other improbable sound sources.
The first impression of the mesmerising Early Morning Migration, augmented by sonorous trombone, guitar, bass and other conventional instruments, is that it is comparable to John Adams's early minimal/electro work, Light Over Water, but then the layers in Honig and Packards' work began to reveal themselves. They're already being remixed on the US electro underground scene. The beautiful architecture of their music excites unlikely but appropriate comparisons with Duke Ellington and Gil Evans. However, they're also inveterate improvisers, playing out live with an improvising computer video artist. If you own anything by Autechre or Seefeel, you owe yourself a copy of this haunting, richly textured, multi-layered music.
(John Gill - The Wire)
Despite the dancing silhouette adverts, people seem to be using their iPods in much more sedate ways. The headphone cord hinders motion, after all; countless iPods clatter under treadmills daily due to runners entangled in cords. Instead of dancing with them, people are simply substituting iPods for jukeboxes. As a home stereo, the iPod particularly excels, due to its large memory and random playlist function. And while an iPod only plays what is inside it, the term "iPod music" could describe the minimal electronic background music that many urban iPod owners favor. With Early Morning Migration, Ezekiel Honig and Morgan Packard have created quintessential iPod music.
Strangely enough, Honig and Packard both cut their teeth on late '90s drum & bass. Honig was a DJ, and Packard was a producer, but each moved away from d&b as the music stagnated. On Technology Is Lonely and Peoples Places & Things, Honig added a uniquely emotional spin to the glitchy minimal house of Mille Plateaux and Force Inc., while Packard delved into academic music with composition studies and software programming. Although the two wrote tunes separately for this album, the result sounds like one person. Honig's clean tones and simple (but not simplistic) melodies combine with Packard's deep sound design and emotive harmonies for a pensive, soothing vibe.
The album begins with the slow-motion shoegazing of "Tropical Ridges", which has a grainy yet full-bodied ambience, with a hint of kick drum underneath. "Balm" follows, and it's exactly that. Its gorgeous, gauzy tones, along with "Window Nature" bring to mind Shudder to Think's lovely (and ill-used) soundtrack to High Art. In general, Honig and Packard alternate tunes here; Honig's are slightly more rhythmic, creating a gently undulating listen. The album peaks with the found sound percussion of "Planting Broken Branches, Pt. 1", then returns to beatlessness with the trembling, Bill Frisell-esque "A Lake of Suggestions Pt. 2" and the jellyfish pulsation of "A Long Time Ago."
Early Morning Migration could be called "ambient", but it has no spacy synth washes or new age-y melodies. It's ambient in the Brian Eno sense, enhancing the atmosphere of whatever room it's in. The album does reward active listening; repeated spins uncover deep bass melodies in "Hibernate", rich brass (!) harmonies in "White on White", and the polyrhythms of out-of-time loops in "Planting Broken Branches, Pt. 2". But at low volumes, this album shines as a soundtrack to everyday life. Wake up to it, fall asleep to it, read a book to it, or skin up to it -- the ceiling's the limit.
Refreshingly free of overbearing ego, Early Morning Migration practices a sort of Zen restraint. NYC minimalist composers and labelmates Honig and Packard collaborated by proxy on an album easily described-in all seriousness-as a wonderfully droning, guided meditation. The artists get out of the way, concentrating instead on a sustained idea of tone and rhythm. Echoey, otherworldly signals meld with delicate electric piano, brief horn flourishes, and a repeated percussion motif that sounds something like the sampled ambient clatter of a ship's rigging or brittle sticks rubbed together in dry palms. The overall effect is a continuous impression of the naked mind-smooth, clean, inspiring, and reminiscent of that first hour after a good night's sleep, when things fascinate by the mere fact that they exist.
(Stewart A. Williams - Resonance)
It should be a split album, with both producers conceiving and producing their music separately, then sprinkling their tunes amongst each other. Though the reality is that without the aid if the liner notes you would never be able to tell. This is due to the duo's shared aesthetic, of gentle low-key progressions, deep warm bass tones and the desire to use plenty of space within their sparse electro acoustic tracks. And it's gorgeous and inventive work, a gentle kind of ambience similar in size to Susumu Yokota, though operating closer to the edges of electronica. In fact it's this proximity that provides much of the interest, widening the gap between sound art and electronica and cheerfully occupying the middle ground with occasional visits to either side. Both Honig and Packard have a history in drum and bass, though at some point they moved away and there is very little evidence of their past here. What they do have is far less tangible and far more valuable with Early Morning Migration filled with numerous tender moments of subtle though innovative beauty.
More shuffling textured rhythms arrive from this rather sweet label, Microcosm Music. Early Morning Migration is a collaboration between the labels owner Ezekiel Honig and Morgan Packard.
The result is an album of warm, shadowy ambient tracks with muffled tones and fragmented clicks and cuts. You have to admire the patience and methodology that has gone into a work of this type, where wholly electronic sampled sounds are used to depict the most natural of dimensions, and succeeding with resonating ambience. It is only left to track titles such as Tropical Ridges, Window Nature, Hibernate, and Planting Broken Branches to give literal explanations.
Trombone appears on White on White, adding the only true conventional digression from Honig and Packard's wholly sculpted electronic expressionalism. A modern-day equivalent to the likes of Budd/Eno, but still a side-shift from the modern day field recordings espoused by the likes of Marsen Jules, Fennesz or Pan Sonic, Early Morning Migration is a dreamily elusive album, albeit friendly and passively melodic.
Although the tracks on Early Morning Migration are split evenly between labelmates Ezekiel Honig and Morgan Packard, the album sticks closely to the somnambulant ambience of Honig's solo output, with none of the meatier drum&bass Packard is known for. However, that doesn't make this collaboration any less of a beauty. Early Morning Migration trickles elegantly into the subconscious with whispered percussive elements and the clicks and skitters of artificial (or real?) pebbles falling on pavement. Variations do develop, as repeated listens reveal a muted interplay between the slightly off-kilter effect of Honig's "found sound" pastiches and Packard's more pristine melodic loops.
(Anna Balkrishna - XLR8R)
This is the first collaborative release for New Yorkers Honig and Packard and produces a rich and seductive demonstration of lo-fi electronica. Swathes of interference battle with intermittent percussion and random clunks and clicks in opener 'Tropical Ridges' while as the title suggests, 'Balm' is a much gentler affair.
There are loads of naturalistic references in the song titles such as 'A Lake of Suggestions' and 'Planting Broken Branches' but the title 'Early Morning Migration' might as easily be about commuting through the city as anything in the countryside. The sound is electronic, but also vaguely soothing. It is introspective, but also expansive in approach. Maybe this is the tautness that comes of the new found collaboration.
Some tracks are so minimal that they hardly seem to exist at all. You wouldn't know they were whirring away in the background but for a few well placed keys ringing through every few seconds. But sometimes less is more and this is a record of boundless textures and moods to lift the soul, but in a gentle way.
(Shane Blanchard - Tasty Fanzine)
Reviews for People Places & Things:
People Places & Things is a hybrid fusion of synthetic-organic minimalism. By interpreting the sounds of everyday life and melding them into layers, Honig creates a familiar sounding arrangement that is unique and engaging. Not unlike Eno's ambient soundscapes or Aphex Twin's metallic arrangements, this album is beautiful and vibrantly organic, while maintaining no qualms about its electronic origins. Honig makes use of steady lilting tones sifted over light percussion. Sometimes, he employs a single-note piano melody, and other times, a powerfully distinct heartbeat. The effect is unobtrusive, a configuration of intricately detailed sounds that mixes into stupefying beauty. Most tracks are languid and mono-minimalist, but Honig does foray into dance with "Passing Through," and into dreams with the sweetly ethereal "Falling Down." Hovering between scantily clad ambient-experimental and percussion-tripped Plastikman is the blurred genre of Ezekiel Honig.
(Deana Morgan - BPM Magazine)
The NYC-based loner likes it soft and somber. Clicky techno beats tap lightly beneath the charmingly spliced buzz, clank and clatter of everyday life. Temperature textures drone peacefully and compassionately. People Places & Things is minimal on the outside, but dense once you gently sink to the middle. Once you're there, heartfelt emotion seeps through, a bursting gushiness of the My Bloody Valentine kind. Add to that sound the dissonant click-techno of Process, the found-sound playfulness of Matthew Herbert and the cute, catchy melodies of ISAN, and you get an album of alluring tranquility and entrancing, drugged-out lullabies.
Though People Places & Things chronologically predates Early Morning Migration, Honig's collaboration with Morgan Packard, and the Macrofun Vol. 3 contribution "Transportation Application," the July 2004 release sounds anything but stale (even if it was issued on Single Cell, the label name briefly adopted before Microcosm). If anything, it shows how quickly Microcosm has established itself as a distinguished outlet for lush electronic minimalism.
Following upon Technology is Lonely, Honig's sophomore outing features eleven languid, at times serene settings of swaying shuffles and alluring melodies. He merges the hazy ambiance of Rhodes melodies and blurry washes with the soft clicks of off-kilter rhythms, many of which suggest they were generated from everyday materials like kitchen utensils and car keys (the album title perhaps alluding to Honig's sound sources). Sometimes, identifiable sounds appear, like the clicks of typewriter keys in "Focused Distraction," the seeming crunch of a carrot in "Cape Cod Getaway," and clipped voice snippets in "Green Tea" and "Click & Sleep." Wedding a descending progression of silken stutter with the percussive clatter of found sounds, "More Human Than Human" adopts a more abstracted feel, as does "Your Face Betrays Your Thoughts" with its granular atmospheres and clacking pulses. Though reverberant billows of soft crackle gently waft over becalmed pulses of soft pads in most songs, "Falling Down" bolsters Honig's customary Rhodes glimmer with funkier-than-usual beats. His music often suggests nothing so much as a mobile nudged slowly by a gentle breeze, its abstract shapes fleetingly coalescing into novel configurations as light reflections scatter prismatically throughout the room.
This beautifully conceived, rich album from Ezekiel Honig finds itself planted somewhere between Jan Jelinek, Shuttle 358, Opiate and Move D, striding along microscopic terrain with the faintest nod of respect to the deep chord washes of Detroit and the minimal machinations of Cologne. Albums like this are easy to skip past, particularly as they are so effortlessly enjoyable. While there's a certain alluring quality posessed by those releases that require a bit of work before they open themselves up to you, Honig has nonetheless managed to produce an album that radiates warmth after repeated listens despite not really breaking any new ground. As far as minimal sunset music of this kind is concerned - "People Places & Things" is just about as good as it gets. Recommended.
You'd never guess Ezekiel Honig was once a Breakbeat Science employee and drum & bass fanatic based on People Places & Things, his sophomore album. The follow-up to Technology is Lonely, People... is an exploration of sound using elements of click-house, muted dub, [very] leftfield techno and minimal music. This is a determinedly thoughtful record that sounds like Honig made it while sitting all by himself in the middle of a field with his laptop, pondering the intricacies of nature.
Honig focuses on the placement of everyday noises in the floating first track "Passing Through" and in the unsure strings and churning clicks of "Your Face Betrays Your Thoughts." People Places & Things would do well to fall on patient ears. It is a great soundtrack to a peaceful night alone in your own environment - no words to distract you, just the meticulously arranged sounds that can only be harnessed via daily life.
(Jen Boyles - Urb Magazine)
As wonderful as this album is to listen to, it's not as easy to review. This is a good thing, however. The types of compositions that Ezekiel Honig presents forces us lazy writers to rethink the compartments that we place music into. People, Places, and Things doesn't allow for such neat or simplistic genre filing. Whereas Technology Is Lonely (Ezekiel's debut album) concentrated largely on a clickhouse aesthetic surrounding a center of atmospheric dub, his follow-up playfully erases the lines in the sand, allowing categories to blur and mutate. As a result, we're left to figure out skeletal forms of genres we thought we were already familiar with, occasionally thrown off balance by the varied assortment of thumps, sputters, buzzes, and crunches along the way.
Continuing the idea of working your environment into the mix, quiet electronics remain a constant throughout the album, the withdrawals from Ezekiel's sound bank tickling the ear. Selections like "winterspring," "green tea," and "click & sleep" flirt with house and techno structures, with voices clipped in mid-syllable and other sounds that you're tempted to think are coming from outside your headphones. One might suggest that "memoir of a future past"contains a breakbeat influence. The frenetic percussion underneath its somber tones bring a low-key funk minimalism to the project. To call this album "electronic listening music" would perhaps be most convenient; to call it IDM would just be a cop-out. Honig's productions are too inviting to be considered IDM. While they are introspective to a certain degree, you get the feeling that the creator doesn't mind acknowledging your presence. These works want you around...and you'll be more than happy to stay.
(Both Sides of the Surface).
An unexpectedly serene outing from a self-professed former drum'n'bass DJ, Honig's People Places and Things is that certain type of record that will go unnoticed by most but will end up becoming a beloved favorite of a few. Honig's musical palette is the minutiae of everyday life - those random musical coincidences born from the noises that surround us at any given time, when the noise of your car keys clattering across a table somehow calls to mind the metallic percussive stutter of a Squarepusher track or the background hum of a refrigerator soothes in the same way as Brian Eno's ambient work might. Gently lilting melodies drift on a bed of percussive clicks and pops whose seemingly random rhythmic patterns somehow coalesce into something more structured with each passing listen. Short attention span theater this is not, but if you've got the patience to delve into a deeper listening experience you'd be advised to check Honig out.
(Brock Phillips - Mean Street)
Ezekiel Honig started out as a drum'n'bass DJ in his native New York, and although, as with last year's Technology is Lonely, the title of his second album reveals a sentimental touch of the old raver's dewey-eyed inclusiveness, his music has clearly moved on. Opener "Passing Through" feints at an oceanic sweep, its soft 4/4 heartbeat pushing it towards the wide open dreamscapes conjured by the likes of Mike Ink and Marcus Guentner. However, any epic aspirations are held neatly in check - widescreen though the music is, it retains an astringent sparseness.
Later, tracks like "More Human Than Human" and "Winter Spring" pulse with airy poise, and if their occasional percussive syncopation glances back towards Honig's breakbeat roots, the overall effect is one of warm, spacious stasis only infrequently disrupted by surprising sonic events like the hard-panned percussion in "Green Tea." Although People Places & Things, is by and large an undemonstrative record, it's also a beguiling one.
(Chris Sharp - The Wire)
rough English translation from the original German:
Next after the sampler 12" with the kickin' John Tejada Remix, the whole album is now out on CD. Somehow all pieces have a smooth kind of tender sound which works together well with the percussive clicks and bits. Playful but minimal melodies and spheric streams alternate and are most of the time driven by slowmotion bassdrums. On People Places & Things Ezekiel Honig works a lot with short loops, dub and minimal elements which shift in between and create subtle backgrounds. Track titles like "Falling Down," "Winter Spring," "Green Tea," and "Click & Sleep" give hints to the more or less ambient, meditative character of the album. Superb!
(Orson Sieverding - De:Bug)