006 Isnaj Dui 'Unstable Equilibrium'

Cat.No: home n006
Release date: August 28th, 2009
Edition number: 500

Release description:
It’s hard to describe an album of moods, emotions and distant memories, but to me that’s what I find myself doing with Katie English’s music. Katie under her Isnaj Dui guise uses conventional and her own home made instrumentation to add loops and layers, until the track is ready to take on its own shape and form.

This music triggers for me a different experience with every listen. Maybe it will be the sound of a lonely alien crying on a tranquil moon, a field of singing flowers staring at the sun, or just my past dreams sailing away on an endless ocean.

Ben Eshmade

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Here's a sample of 'Unstable Equilibrium' which is free to download:


Aah, yes. A wonderful new full album from Katie English under her Isnaj Dui guise. I’ve been listening to the clips for a couple of weeks and have been champing at the bit to hear the full album and it’s exactly as good as I expected it to be. Having released numerous CDs on her own FBox label as well as, of course, that marvellous 3” for Smallfish, it’s good to see Katie putting something out on an awesome label like Home Normal. Believe me, she deserves some props as she’s quietly ploughed her own furrow on the London electronic / improve scene with her unique music skills and style. One of her main trademarks, as you may or may not know, is her use of the flute within the compositions. Quite apart from her being a talented flautist in her own right this gives her work a palpable sense of melody and an organic quality that always shines through. Combined with laptop processing and some wonderfully diverse field recordings each track is a mini-journey through the larger expanse of the album as a whole. Wonderfully structured tones and layers are gently built up and manipulated into imaginative and unusual soundscapes with an undeniably oriental lilt at times. Take, for example, the ringing bell tones of ‘Towards Evening’ or the serene and exquisitely gorgeous flute of ‘Chill Turns To Cold’ – all incredibly evocative of the far east and, for me, Japan in particular. Playing against the predominantly melodic work are occasional moments of a more experimental nature which neatly provide a counterpoint and reference for you when you inevitably find yourself being doused in warmth and feeling once again. Truly a delight to listen to and something that is both familiar and strangely exotic sounding. You’re unlikely to hear another album quite like this in the near future and for that we must be thankful that Isnaj Dui is out there doing her own thing. Recommended or essential? Honestly, both. Superb.

Boomkat An album of the week
Unstable Equilibrium is the latest offering from Katie English, recording under her Isnaj Dui guise, and a rather wonderful release it is too. Although the customary drifting structures of loops, layers and overlapping instrumental tones are in check, you couldn’t really declare this to be an ambient record, instead it tends to evoke the sense that you’re listening to something that might have come out via Lyrichord many years ago. Disjointed tuned percussion pieces (somewhere between thumb piano and gamelan) fire up at various points in the album, with the likes of ‘Founded On Curiosity’ and ‘The Paper Fell Apart’ both sounding as though they might have originated from field recordings made on an unspecified South East Asian island. Taking a different approach, more neo-classical aesthetics are achieved with the harmonised, flute-like figures repeated and stretched across ‘Klangfarbenkreis’ and ‘Chill Turns To Cold’, but in all cases the presence of electronic intervention is subdued and played down to leave the album feeling like a far more naturalistic and organically hewn piece of work than it probably was. Absolutely gorgeous music and a big recommendation for followers of this excellent label and good music everywhere.

Norman Records
‘Unstable Equilibrium’ is the new offering from Katie English a.k.a. Isnaj Dui on Home Normal records.. It’s very atmospheric, mood driven music created from heavily processed home spun loops and drones. Opener ‘Towards Evening’ is an immensely tranquil affair that shimmers and chirps it’s way to infinity and beyond, it’s incredibly peaceful music that could in no way upset or offend my palette. The rest of album is working equally as well for me. Various strange tones and sequences are introduced as the record progresses but nothing that alters the initial mood. Instruments are introduced and sonic’s are embellished upon but a singular and effortless vision still remains. This is the ultimate late night headphones record in the vein of Aphex Twin’s selected ambient works and such….this is really nice music. Check it out.

Under the Isnaj Dui guise, Katie English creates highly personalized sound paintings from a battery of acoustic instruments and electronic treatments, including concert and bass flutes, home-made instruments, and various effects and looping devices. What results is a special album indeed, one that may partake of established production methods but nevertheless ends up sounding like the work of a unique artist. That the flute is prominently featured in her pieces (English is a classically trained flautist) partially explains why her music exudes such a haunting character; another is the strong gamelan dimension that colours many of Unstable Equilibrium’s ten pieces (she also formally studied Javanese gamelan).

“Towards Evening” begins the recording with an arresting juxtaposition of melancholic background tones and rapid tinkling sounds that patter like a micro-gamelan orchestra. She gives her flute-playing skills an impressive workout in “Signals Differ” where criss-crossing patterns of fluttering tones resound against a lulling, feathery backdrop. Even better is “Chill Turns To Cold,” a beautiful and austere neo-classical setting whose supplicating flute melodies lend the piece a devotional character; “Klangfarbenkreis” likewise entrances when its soothing, cloud-like formations billow alongside an undercurrent of deeper bass tones. If the flute-based settings are heavenly, “The Paper Fell Apart” by comparison is fully earth-bound in its focus on quasi-gamelan percussion patterns and Pipa-like string plucks. To English’s credit, electronic manipulations are used in the service of the music in such a way that they become almost subliminal, with the focus instead kept on the music’s natural character. Another feather in Home Normal’s cap, Unstable Equilibrium impresses as an oft-beautiful exercise in sensuous tone-painting that, in seemingly effortless manner, not only distinguishes itself from the competition but establishes Isnaj Dui as a distinctive artistic voice.

Rockdelux magazine (Spain) by Juan Monge
Cortadas por el tintineo de cuencos y gamelanes y los arañazos metálicos que Katie English cuela en muchas de estas piezas, las flautas que la mujer detrás de Isnaj Dui aprendió a tocar en un conservatorio parecen otra cosa. Y es que esa manera de hacer que cada muestra digital, cada roce de metal o cada instrumento afecte al que sonará después es lo que da a “Unstable Equilibrium” la fuerza para crear un paisaje, un estado, que solo parece posible dentro de este disco.

El contraste entre la naturaleza experimental de muchos de los sonidos que English yuxtapone y degrada –percusiones de reminiscencias orientales, cadenas y crujidos deformados- y la potencialidad melódica de las partes de flauta definen sombras y texturas a cada segundo. La sutileza de estos cortes forma una banda sonora virgen que el cerebro llena con recuerdos reales o imaginados. Igual que en un retrato robot, la psicofonía digital que se retuerce dentro de “Broken Fragments”, los intervalos de luz que giran sobre “Chill Turns To Cold” o el aire helado que mece “Klangfarbenkreis” o “That Which Was Lost” dibujan las líneas de personajes y lugares perdidos en los minutos que el sonido tarda en desaparecer. Porque es imposible frenar todas esas imágenes, hacer que se disipen. English las llama con un susurro convertido en música viva, cambiante y nueva. Música que importa.

Homen006 brought a new name to our attention at Soundscaping, and we love discovering wonderful new talents. This time it was the Englishwoman Katie English recording under her Isnaj Dui moniker (ed. which of course falsely led me to believe her firstname would be Janis…). “Unstable Equilibrium” is a fine display of looping melodies basedly largely around instrumental, acoustic tones such as flutes (apparently a trademark associated with her from her countless and regular live performances that are allegedly of great quality) and dulcimer that receive ample electronic processing and overlayed rhythmic, percussive elements. The result; minimalistic, yet friendly and nicely flowing tracks with a hue of orientalism and country-side English in harmony that varies broadly from ambient droning tracks á la Celer and Ken Ikeda to more rhythmic pieces that reminisce of Xela or Svarte Greiner that feel more alien and strange, albeit melodically orientated and no too inaccessible to the listener. In the end, we feel thankful for discovering yet another interesting artist who we will keep an eye out for in the future, and Home Normal continued to surprise us and innovate itself with this charming release.