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Gunkajima [Expanded & Remastered]

by Milieu

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about

Gunkajima was the first Milieu album recorded, and arguably it can be said that the Milieu name itself was chosen to fit with a record of this kind. Although it was created around the same time as Songs We Found In The Sand, the album bears no resemblance to any other Milieu music at the time, and would remain an anomaly until perhaps Giants In The Desert was recorded a full two years later.

Gunkajima is comprised of a seamless suite of five longform beatless pieces, themselves built out of carefully assembled field recordings, computer and tape recorded synthesis and instrumental improvisation. From these components, a foreboding atmosphere emerges, painting an abstract image of a deserted city landscape, decaying civilization overtaken by the elements (a theme that would be revisited later on several Coppice Halifax albums) and total abject isolation.

Gunkajima itself is such a place - an island off the coast of Japan that looks like a battleship from the mainland, completely deserted since 1974 (although it's worth noting that in my naivete back in 2004, I may have misspelled the proper name of the island on the album...even so, I don't have the heart to change it now). Having read about the island in a book, I was inspired to create an artificial field recording of the place, paired with imagery from a nightmare I had at the time (which, oddly, was somewhere in Bavaria in the early 1900s), and so this brooding experience was given life through a kitchen-sink recording approach in my then-girlfriend's living room.

At the time, it represented far more than the sum of its pieces, to me. It was the first time I'd really successfully created something totally unique on my own - I'd been in and out of several bands since 1997 and Gunkajima was my first recording project that was made using leftover equipment from those years. By today's standards, and on the other end of 400+ releases, it probably doesn't hold as much weight, but it's still the very beginning of this long strange trip I've been on since then, and as such will never lose significance for me.

I've gone to great exhaustive lengths to remaster the release, and I think it sounds and feels even bolder than it did when I created it. In continuing with my tradition of renewal and revision, after finding the source recordings, I set out to also create a new Coppice Halifax piece using those original sounds. The resulting piece is the hour-long Varosha, itself named for yet another abandoned city, and a perfect companion piece to the ominous landmark that is Gunkajima.

credits

released May 17, 2014

W/P by Brian Grainger. Remastered by The Analog Botanist, Botany Bay, Spring 2014. Varosha constructed by Coppice Halifax at Botany Bay, Spring 2014. This is Milieu Music number AD14, and 14th in the ongoing Arboreal Digest reissue catalog.

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Milieu Dayton, Ohio

Psychedelic electronic music, sun-warmed analog ambient and sci-fi braindance, for cats, aliens and epicureans alike.

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