The Nightmiller

Mystery Sea MS47 | CDR | 2008 | 10,00 € | OUT OF STOCK!

The second output on Belgian specialist for nocturnal tones Mystery Sea follows the hardly audible ambient-concept of "VIVMMI" to a bench, a mill and an afterglow. C.D.F.'s wearing some Mediterranean hood.

  1. The Archon Star (2'35)
  2. Wooden Waiting (19'25)
  3. The Nightmiller (14'39)

About the record

Mirko Uhlig (b. 1981, in Aachen, Germany), both musician and producer, and already the figurehead behind the rather acclaimed Aalfang Mit Pferdekopf vivid surreal soundworld, has made the choice to use his own name for a category of more minimal & contemplative works... with various releases under this signature for Ex Ovo (label of which he is besides the co-founder), Field Muzick, and Nextera (a collab withdronæment), he now offers this splendid nocturnal ode to MS...

Mirko is clearly a poet, an utterly sensitive young man possessed with rare visions of eloquent beauty...
With "The Nightmiller", he has refined his style to such an extent that it seems to flow effortlessly, capturing the ephemeral grace of a unique moment... so, just let yourself go, drift inside in close communion, and listen now :

To the slow drowning sun
still glowing in the flickering crimson sky
on an isolated shore...

To the old windmill wings revolving
in unison with the world...

To the words whispered gently in the mild air...

To the curled up silhouette's breath
dreaming on that eroded wooden bench...


"The Nightmiller" spreads fragrances of moist grass under the trembling stars, and oneiric dust, unfolding a pregnant sea of everlasting wonder...

Introductory words:
"Beware the misleading imagination of the author:

 Through the funnel in the skullcap the afterglow’s dust leaked into the inner paceway sending the mind’s scratching orchestra to Coventry. Coming to rest on the wooden bench in front of the old tattered mill nearby the dunes. The wind’s voice danced like Tilopa and got grinded by the millstones. Piping on the marram grass. “Wait for the transition from golden to violet in the occidental crucible and read what’s been written with kerosene chalk.”

The first version of this album was finished in January 2007, containing two tracks. The early edit of “The Nightmiller” sunk into the mysterious waves of oblivion and the only thing I remembered was that I really liked it in its entireness. And well, how surprised I was when listening to it again (because the release date on Mystery Sea came closer and closer): The opening track which I recalled as “relaxed” and “contemplative” shaped up as a serene and even more minimal version (BASIC TRACK) of that already published “Para Puri” (on “Farewell Fields” with Dronæment). A closed circle became an open triangle in one second. So I sent the whole thing into the millstonesoundfactory again and was happy about my semi-senility afterwards - because now I could pay deference to my recent love for sparse & eternal melody-loops – of course taking my hat off to the incredible inspiring work of David Jackman & William Basinski. I think, that is obvious. All these new arrangements are based on melody fragments separated from a handful of small instrumental songs I composed and recorded from 2006 to 2007 on an acoustic six string.

Thanks to all who listen with their windows opened wide and two persons in particular:
Daniel who gave me a second chance to gain my swimming badge. R. for washing the ditches. Dedicated to all windmills, marram grass, surf, wooden benches and their lovers in the whole wide world.

So – I hope these three tracks endow you some few contemplative and quiet moments. Music for staring. Music before a decampment. For erasing the sense of guilt while doing nothing but a wooden waiting. For erasing the stutter and the chatter. In the night. Into."
Mirko Uhlig, June 2008.

Reviews

Vital Weekly #636
"So far the work of Mirko Uhlig was highly appreciated here. Not because it's any 'new' by any sort of standard, but his wanderings into the world of drone music can easily match those in the field with a higher profile. The three tracks here are more pieces from what Uhlig does best (his attempt at 'noise' seemed an one off). Very soft in volume, this is drone music of a highly nocturnal affair. Don't bring this into the daylight but keep it covered for night time listening. You need to crank up the volume quite a bit in order to hear something of the low fidelity drones, but if you do the three parts will make perfect sense. Only the title piece seems to be a bit louder, and could be sampled from Ravel's 'Bolero' covered with a lot of hiss sounds. It's anyway hard to tell what it is that Uhlig does here in terms of using sounds and/or instruments. The drones are large, and could be processed field recordings, but I think I also recognized some (sampled?) instruments in there. As said, I think this is another fine release from Uhlig, even when the whole ambient drone sound is a dead end alley."
Frans de Waard

Unruhr:
"to the slow drowning sun still glowing in the flickering crimson sky on an isolated shore...
to the old windmill wings revolving in unison with the world...
to the words whispered gently in the mild air...
to the curled up silhouette's breath dreaming on that eroded wooden bench...
"the nightmiller" spreads fragrances of moist grass under the trembling stars, and oneiric dust, unfolding a pregnant sea of everlasting wonder...

so die linernotes auf „the nightmiller", mirko uhligs neuestem vö, diesmal auf dem belgischen label mystery sea, das, passend zu seinem namen, seine veröffentlichungen (wie z.b. schon tzesnes „cliffs under the mist" ) in den metakontext „see" stellt. gemeinsames musikalisches merkmal ist damit eine nicht wegzudiskutierende drone-haltung, gerne auf langer fahrt durch an- und abschwellende wasserinspirierte flächen. noch stärker der zusammenhang jedoch über das artwork mit seiner variation eines maritim/mysteriösenen gestus, schick anzusehen auf der label-seite; jede vö als (profi)cd-r im jewelcase, und: eben gut gemacht. und die reputation, die mirko uhlig in bezug auf seine ideen als musiker (z.b. "VIVMMI", "storm: outside calm tamed", "the rabbit's logbook", "farewell fields"; letzteres zusammen mit dronaement) und labelchef („mandala vol. 1", feu follet und miina virtanen "the icicle lectures", richard lainhart "white night") bereits hat, wird seitens mystery sea jetzt noch einmal nachhaltig unterstrichen: mit „the nightmiller" unter seinem eigenen namen kann er bereits das zweite werk innerhalb der labeldiskografie vorlegen; nach „genmaicha : at the opal seashore" als sein früheres alter ego aalfang mit pferdekopf.

"the nightmiller", das ist erst einmal ein dunkler, gedeckter soundgestus, eingeführt mit dem 2.34 kurzen „ the archon star", fast rau und fein geschuppt, dabei genau so anmutig wie verstörend. „wooden waiting" beginnt in seinen 19.24 minuten dann als fast weiche, weit ausgebreitete, in die ferne ausgestreckte fläche, die den blick von der mühle über die glatte dunkle see leitet. und obwohl vom start an teil, schälen sich die stets auf der kippe scheinenden feedbackanteile, die der in der dünung bewegenden fläche ein kontrastierendes gefühl der unwägbarkeit verleihen erst nach ein paar augenblicken heraus und bereiten das aufkommen tiefer subfrequenzen vor, mit denen zusammen die vorherige melodiedrift durch ein stärker gerichtetes thema abgelöst wird. das aber, die drohenden vorzeichen missachtend, letztlich doch in hellere, ruhigere wässer führt, nur um beim titel „the nightmiller" ins innere der mühle zu leiten, wo ein ganz anderer pegel herrscht, als noch wenige minuten zuvor, draussen auf der sitzbank. im rhythmus des mahlwerks geht es durch die verschiedenen stockwerke und die daraus resultierenden klangwelten bis sich alles doch verliert...

perfekte studie in auf-, abbau und verflechtung bzw. in wahrung von homogenität bei steter varianz. sehr empfohlen."
Hellmut Neidhardt

Touching Extremes:
"A low mastering level, the instruments’ incidence often indiscernible, all sounds very cuddly to the ears, no actual accidents. Isn’t this picture appropriate to what unadulterated ambient should sound like? Mirko Uhlig has undeniably generated the prototypical intangible album (this is praise, OK?). The three tracks of “The Nightmiller” are barely audible (unless you listen to them in absolute silence), their secreted details even less, but guess what: they work fine, at least for the large part. This is the kind of record that one can play ad infinitum no problem - in particular, the marvelous “Wooden waiting” - without realizing that the entire day went by. Its origin is (perhaps) a combination of synthesizers and processing, yet I wouldn’t be shocked if cloaked field recordings were included in there. MU has nothing to declare, for the better. These subdued, lethargic waves crawl under the floor to silently encircle this listener, taken by a concentration that the music enhances rather than breaking. The whole becomes increasingly mesmerizing; at one point, we seem to hear buried songs from the opposite side of the room. It’s just a false impression of course, as Uhlig’s structures are much uncomplicated, in exact antagonism to certain productions of his alter-ego project, Aalfang Mit Pferdekopf. But, besides being unfussy, they’re also gracefully efficient, which ultimately spells the classification of this CD as “quite good”."
Massimo Ricci

e/i:
"In The Nightmiller, there seems to be all the infinity of Mirko Uhlig's own absence—that is to say, it's a pure hole into which drains all of his past penchants for machines of esoteric purpose vainly struggling to jar or achieve autonomous operation. This is also to indicate that Uhlig's new resistance is a kind of non-resistance; a sensitivity to the elements, to their contours, density, dynamics, and timbre. He appears equally open to their symbolic import: to the way these sparsely textured atmospheres enable creation, time, infinity and multiple discrete universes to merge in a satori flash. As a CD, it lasts all of 36 minutes and spans some three tracks. It begins as a beatific luminescence that breathes air and ripples out into an imagined distance, evoking a weight of being behind every act. Uhlig's melodies develop slowly and the oneiric structures betray an undercurrent of stealthy depths. It's these depths that run into the albums second work, "Wooden Waiting", where an intense focus upon the fine detail of the unfolding electronic fields spreads over the immense richness of acoustic detail. Such slow-burning episodes of beautiful, elegant, emotionally affecting passages of ambience finds in the albums final piece an effective counterpoint, as grainy, hissing loops shake up and then paralyze the tracks motion. The move creates a dim space into which single guitar notes and rasping massed melodic lines withdraw, leaving the dawning sensation that all is evaporating in impenetrable darkness. Neither especially active or passive, The Nightmiller nevertheless manages just enough permutation and variation of a limited set of materials. As a result, the sounds and spaces between them often float. Those acquainted with the vicelike brutality and recalcitrantly challenging Uhlig may find his wholehearted adoption of this elegiac tone difficult to fathom, just as those who begin here will find it hard to believe he's ever done anything else."
Max Schaefer

Wonderful Wooden Reasons:
"I'm ill so I think it might just be the medication talking but Nightmiller sounds to me like a great job title.
'Who are you?'
'I am the Nightmiller! Beware my finely-ground floury wrath!!!'
Mirko Uhlig's Nightmiller however is a lot mellower than the one in my head. His is more the painterly sort, delicately mixing his palette of only the warmest of hues to create a sumptuously warm landscape into which to travel.
To continue with my painting metaphor, Uhlig works with long, steady, confidant brushstrokes. His colours clear and precise. At no point does this work feel spontaneous but instead there is an aura of meticulous planning in this display of masterly technique.  If this description makes 'The Nightmiller' sound dry and unwelcoming then I apologize because it is neither of these things. While it is true that the immediacy of more unstructured or improvised music is absent the sheer quality of what has been crafted in it's place more than makes up for it and makes Nightmiller one of the finest drone albums it's been my pleasure to hear this year."
Ian Holloway

Tokafi:
"Less notes: Fleeting figments and humming remnants by an artist who wants to share.
The Beijing 'Egg'

It is ironic to say the least that Mirko Uhlig's intentions seem to have been more readily understood when he was still releasing under his eccentric Aalfang mit Pferdekopf moniker. Back then, the joyful juxtaposition of divergent elements resulted in a kaleidoscopic collagerie which paid obvious tribute to the krauty side of Nurse with Wound and the monolithic coolness of Organum - and while it was magic to some, it didn't even qualify as music to others. Now he has retreated to his nom de passport, Uhlig has exchanged the naive bewilderment of experimental bricolage with the pursuit of pure beauty and there is suddenly confusion as to his motives: Are these silent outbursts of refined romanticism intended as some sort of clever commentary on the Drone genre, as a neo-conservative return to proven values or part of something different altogether?

Looking back, Uhlig's first two solo albums under his civilian name are to blame for this calamity. And yet, they also paved the way for what surely now looks like an exciting and sustainable artistic career. If „VIVMMI“ promised a bright new world, which solipsistically combined the aleatory techniques of early AmP oeuvres like "Ich habe nur noch 12 Seepferdchen in meinem Tempel" with the serene flow of later works like „Fragment 36“, then it was spontaneously blown to pieces by the brutal boulder dash of „Storm: Outside Calm Tamed“, a stupendous sonic self-laceration which redefined terms like noise and repetitivity. The impact of this ruthless tour de fource can still be sensed in reviews of his work today, which seem puzzled as to which direction Uhlig is headed for. But it also meant that his oeuvre contained a fertile inbuilt tension as a seed of infinite possibilities.

If he has therefore decided not to go to extremes on his latest full-length, this is by no means proof of backtracking. Rather, it simply implies that Uhlig's interests have shifted and that he feels no obligation and need whatsoever of ignoring them. „The Nightmiller“ is his softest and most sensual album to date, a three-part flying carpet-ride composed of the fleeting figments and humming remnants of peaceful acoustic Guitar melodies and simple, evocative chord schemes sketched over a two year period. No sudden surprises interrupt the flow, no detonations burst into the fragile void, all is gentle undulation and loving comfort. „Music for staring. Music before a decampment. For erasing the sense of guilt while doing nothing but a wooden waiting“, as Uhlig bares his intentions. But it is also: Deeply optimistic music, music of trust and happiness by an artist who wants to share.

The dream-like quality of this message is underlined by the pointed brevity of its sonic representation. In just 36 minutes, „The Nightmiller“ passes by like a slow, muffled night train, a heat-blurred vision rather than a tangible collection of tracks. The deep swell of introductory „The Archon Star“ all but imperceptibly melts into „Wooden Waiting“, whose oneirically pulsating foundation of two long organ points is being caressed by glassy, feedback-like harmonics. Composition translates to full immersion here, as Uhlig brings out the potential of his material by constantly fine-tuning dynamics, filter settings, timbres and textural density and carefully shuffling his elements to arrive at a solemnly breathing piece of great calm. The closing title track counterpoints this oblique fuzziness by playing harmonic backwards loops against each other until their rhythmic motion is all but cancelled out, the slate wiped clean and there is space for an entirely new scenario of metallic raspings and a canon of sound sheets to develop.

By eradicating all but the essential and staying true to a small but strong selection of themes, „The Nightmiller“ manages to fuse emotional ambition and inventive arrangements without forcing itself upon the listener. If this inherent freedom is mistaken for a shallow variation of the Ambient concept, then so be it. But at the true heart of this album lies an important realisation, which ardently defies its use as background muzak: Making a musical statement of lasting value amidst the confusing blabber of 21st century life requires less, not more notes."
Tobias Fischer

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