International Anthem has announced the debut album ‘Recordings from the Åland Islands‘ from new signings Jeremiah Chiu and Marta Sofia Honer and have shared the first new single ‘By Foot By Sea’, out digitally now.
The combination of modular synthesizer and viola is an uncommon one, but on their duo debut Recordings from the Åland Islands, Jeremiah Chiu & Marta Sofia Honer bring together this distinctive dyad with grace and truth.
As the title indicates the genesis of the project was a 2017 trip Chiu & Honer took to the Åland Islands (an archipelago in the Baltic Sea between Sweden and Finland). Their goal initially was to help friends Jannika/Sage Reed barn raise a small hotel in Kumlinge (a group of islands with a population of around 320). The intention was, once completed, the hotel would also host artist residencies and workshops, creating a direct link between the islands & the USA.
The concept of recording music in the archipelago came about as Honer & Chiu experienced the islands. They were immediately taken by the serene and strange quality of the place. The network of miniature islands is traversed by ferry which, according to Chiu, “casts a surreal horizontal movement through space and time, with islands shifting into and out of periphery, totally still and calm, yet always in motion.”
Their approach on Recordings from the Åland Islands echoes recordings like Jon Hassell’s Vernal Equinox, Franco Battiato’s Clic, or Brian Eno’s Another Green World. Yet there is more to this than retro reproduction or tribute. Honer and Chiu’s collective pallet is full of new ideas, combining improvisations on viola, electronics, organs, piano, and synthesizers with field recordings and voice memos captured at various locations on the islands, layered and post-composed into a vivid hyperreality of painterly tones and textures with a deeply warm resonance. It’s an incredibly strong debut evoking a powerful sense of place, transporting and immersing listeners in the other world of the Åland Islands.
Honer says the first single from the album – “By Foot By Sea” – shares the story of “two magical activities: biking through the islands at 1am during the everlasting dusk of the midnight sun, and taking a boat ride through the archipelago.” Chiu notes: “It’s a reflective piece, set in the evening to late-night hours where the sun is hovering along the horizon, gently dipping towards, but never fully going away.”
Jeremiah Chiu & Marta Sofia Honer originally met in Chicago as participants in a performance of Terry Riley’s “In C” (an event that is organized annually by minimalist ensemble Bitchin Bajas). Both were active members of the notoriously inter-connected improvisational and experimental music scenes there. Chiu’s musical CV to that point included work with Icy Demons and Chandeliers, as well as visual/graphic design work as Some All None. Honer had worked as an instructor and a member of the ensemble Quartet Datura. A year after their first collaboration they decided to move to the West Coast.
An active intersectional cultural producer in the Los Angeles scene, Chiu is known for his visual art as much as his music. A professor at Otis College of Art and Design by trade, Chiu’s a regular musical collaborator of Booker Stardrum, Celia Hollander, Dustin Wong, and Sam Prekop.
Honer is a first call session player for the likes of Adrian Younge and Beyoncé. She’s also played on recordings by Chloe x Halle, Angel Olsen, Fleet Foxes, Stanley Clarke and others