Valve Tiny Pilots

Release date:
December 1, 2023
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VÄLVE's second full album release, Tiny Pilots is a sonic exploration of imaginary worlds and literary influences, through experimental song forms. There are fleeting resemblances on the wonderful, many-sided Tiny Pilots by VÄLVE, ranging from the avant-prog of Henry Cow and Dagmar Krause, to Pere Ubu's 30 Seconds Over Tokyo to the musique concrète of Harrison Birtwistle's Chronometer. However, what composer Chlöe Herington particularly brings to VÄLVE is a literary sensibility, literary influences: H. E. Bates, W. B. Yates Keith Ridgway, the sci-fi of Clive Parker, Phillip Pullman, John Wyndham. Tiny Pilots is a speculative album, realising in music imaginary scenarios, unknown interiors as in 'The Ice House', based on a wondering what might be inside the huge, abandoned proto-refrigerators, or the intriguingly entangled 'Atmos #4', in which the Wiltshire based composer evokes a sense of the nocturnal life of a hedge, conjuring up visions with a found piece of slate and a kalimba. In addition to Chlöe Herington's lead vocals, soprano sax, electric guitar, electric piano, synths, glockenspiel, and drum machine and Emma Sullivan's searing and sinuous electric bass, synth, trumpet and backing vocals, the album employs a crack team of special guest musicians: Elen Evans (harp), Craig Fortnam (drums, nylon string guitar, voice), Jo Spratley (vocals), Alex Thomas (drums), Brian Wright (violin, viola), Sam Barton (trumpet), Kavus Torabi (harmonium, voice) and Frank Byng (percussion, voice, mixing) - Tiny Pilots is a series of micro-worlds, or even, in the case of 'B-612', other worlds, distant planets. They are experimental modes of exploratory transportation, darting about inquisitively, never settling into a rut or groove, in which the electric and acoustic interplay freely, elaborately, evocative of the revived bygone and of unborn futures. Herington's vocals are lucid, almost deadpan, on 'Delicate Engines', for example, based on a terrifying childhood dream, a meditation on the vulnerability of the psyche. 'Gertrude's List', meanwhile, with it's mini-maelstroms of electric keyboard arpeggios, supportive trumpet phrases and cosmic blasts of synth imagines the prose of Gertrude Stein torn up and floating in space. But these are no mere flights of fantasy or whimsy. On 'The Hot House' a companion piece to 'The Ice House (revisited)', VÄLVE vividly evokes a suffocating sense of claustrophobia in a greenhouse using faintly Gamelan brushstrokes of prepared electric guitar, an Organelle synth alongside a Phillichorda organ, of impinging thickets of tropicalia, of sweating glass.

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