My latest Elskavon release:
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Can I give you a quick glimpse into the whirlwind mind of an independent musician?
It’s all about seasons. Last summer and into the fall, I was furiously writing a new Elskavon album, not to mention new Bora York songs with my wife, and Hi-Fi Cali collaborations and singles… For every album I release, which is typically around 9-10 songs, I end up with sometimes more than 50 demos and half-written songs. So there was a lot of writing happening. The ideas kept coming and the inspiration was heavy.
In September, I decided to set a release date for the new album, Skylight - this gives myself a deadline to actually call things done, and to get prepped for a release. From late fall on, leading up to that date (January 26), I was finishing songs, mixing and mastering the audio, working on artwork, studio and promo videos, show prep, social media content, reaching out for press and playlist possibilities, and more. There’s a lot of things on the independent release checklist.
In the midst of all this, I was about to step into a part-time freelance role, something my wife and I had been preparing for about a year. We’re very hopeful and excited about this season of our journey, which just started a few weeks ago.
There has been a lot of things happening, and I’m grateful every step of the way. But I’m human and I get burnt out, as well. Last week it was tough to find any sort of inspiration whatsoever. And there was a definite setback regarding the new album - something I had been getting used to slipped away. It’s part of the process, and something I was fully aware could be a possibility. But it was still a bit of a punch in the gut.
I do my best to not let my emotions control me when it comes to career pursuits - I grit my teeth and I keep moving forward, but still, last week was tough.
Here’s where this new single comes in. I made a decision, opposite from what I felt emotionally, to write, record, and release a new song in a matter of days. Piano Day is a new worldwide celebration of the piano, and I wasn’t initially planning on participating. But this felt like an opportunity to get up, and move forward.
I couldn’t think of a more appropriate title, either.
Not only is spring almost here season-wise, but I was reminded of a few other uses of the word spring when I looked it up:
To move or jump suddenly or rapidly forward
Originate or arise from
A resilient device
Amazing. Even though I didn’t feel like it, I’m making the choice to move forward, and to write, which is, I believe, one of my purposes in life. Who knows, maybe this choice will help me to jump suddenly or move rapidly forward to a new, beautiful season in my creativity. Even though I didn’t feel like it, I’m making the choice to write something new, something fresh - to originate, to arise from. And even though I don’t feel like it, I’m choosing to be resilient.
That’s where Spring comes from.
And no matter what you do, or feel, or create, and no matter what kind of season you’re in - whether you’re flourishing or hurting - I hope you choose to keep moving forward. I hope you choose to be resilient.
I hope you choose spring.
I released my 4th Elskavon album, Skylight, on January 26th. It was a joy to create and it's even greater joy to hear others impacted by it. I'm so grateful for anyone who's taken the time to listen. Thought I'd put together a little compilation of selected press and playlists:
"Skylight by Elskavon is a true work of art in the medium of sound, and Bartels’ patience and loving labor have paid off more so than he may realize. We can only hope that the next installment in Elskavon’s discography will be equally grandiose, but until then, it will be more than enough to relish every minute of Skylight as we wait."
Read the full review
"Throughout the album Bartels uses different styles of music to keep the listener entertained. Is it Ambient? Electronica? Drone? Post Rock? Modern Classical? Experimental? Well, the answer is yes and no. The tracks can contain all or just some of these genres which allows the music to not be pigeonholed and rewards deeper repeated listening."
"When Chris Bartels chose the name for his Elskavon project he formed a neologism from a pair of Icelandic words – elska meaning “love” and von meaning “hope”). It was not only a message he would weave into his compositions, but a nod in the direction of Sigur Ros, one of his key influences when he started to write ambient music."
"That mix of practicality and musical creativity lends the record an honest, personal feeling. There is a moment at the end of a lovely piano solo on “Offers of Peace,” where Bartels’ piano bench squeaks as he shifts his weight. It reminds us that we haven’t just heard a beautiful composition, we’ve heard the recording of a richly nuanced performance and all the ambient sound that comes with it."
"Over time though, these visual repositories for the small milestones that shape the course of our lives take on a much greater significance, sometimes ending up as the only memory aid we have left to remember them. Listening to Skylight is tantamount to flicking through such a photo album."
Handmade deluxe CD packages of my new Elskavon album Skylight are available now! In addition to immediate digital download, each package includes a couple poem selections (written by me), and is made from burlap, paper, twine, and topped by a small bronze Minnesota charms. My wife and I assembled these at our house. This is a very short run - we made a total of 50.
Subscribe to my Youtube channel for more!
Piano. Ambient samples. Coffee. Toys. Here's a glimpse into my life. Improvising with the Ableton Push, Alesis SamplePad Pro, and piano. The drum samples halfway through are from Gotye's Wurlitzer Sideman tube drum machine, found in this video, via J.Views' Album DNA Project.
Speaking of J.Views, Bora York is opening for them November 9 at Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis. We're honored and cannot wait!
Be sure to subscribe to my Youtube channel. More of these on the way.
Syna is a 2-song single I just released, the first new Elskavon release in 3 years.
It's the first taste of a 4th full-length album. This one goes a bit deeper. Each song is inspired by a particular memorable moment or era in my life. Some are small, like one cool summer night riding bikes home with my best friend and fireworks going off in the distance. Some are big, like the birth of my children.
I really believe memorable moments that we relive over and again are so incredibly valuable, and reminders to not miss the potential in the making now - these are gifts we can never fully get back, so really living these moments is important.
Here's a new Elskavon song called 'House of El.' Written, recorded, and mixed in a couple hours sitting in a fast food restaurant on a Sunday afternoon. True story.
This song is available excluively as a bonus track with the Reveal full album download on Bandcamp: elskavon.bandcamp.com/album/reveal
Chris' third Elskavon album, titled Reveal, will be available for download and on CD August 26th.
Reveal sees the project take a new direction, adding much fuller instrumentation and venturing into post-rock territory.
Listen to a few songs here, and you can pre-order the album on Bandcamp. The full album download on Bandcamp will also include a bonus song.
"Imprints" is the first song off the new Elskavon album Reveal.
Reveal is the second installment of a double album, the spring version, if you will.
"Imprints" takes the Elskavon sound to a new place. It's the first time drums and percussion are introduced in full, and it touches on a more ethereal post-rock style, while still behind an ambient wash. With earlier albums Movements In Season and Release, drums and percussion, and even rhythm in general sometimes, were completely absent.
While the first installment of the double album, the winter-based Release, was heavy on drone sounds and minimalism, Reveal really opens up the Elskavon sound for the first time.
A release date for the album is to be announced.
Release your imagination. So it can Reveal your reality.
Last week Jordan Nimlos helped me with filming and producing a live video for 'These Letters Are Only For You' from the recent Elskavon album Release.
Jordan has been a good friend of mine for years, and we actually used to play in a band together called Letter And Lines. The first 'real' album, if you will, that I ever released was the Vision EP from Letter And Lines. While the EP is not of the grandest quality when I listen to it now, those songs will always mean a lot to me.
Anyways, Jordan is also a talented photographer. I used one of his photos for the album artwork of Movements In Season, the Elskavon debut album. Recently he bought a Canon 6D and this was his first real run at doing some video work with it. This video was completely spur-of-the-moment. Release is the winter version of a double album, so it was only fitting to get some outside shots of the snow and wiping off the car. Ahh, Minnesota.
Without further ado...
This song is also available for free download on bandcamp:
I launched Anthem Falls Music a bit over a year ago, and a couple months later I released the debut album for my ambient project Elskavon, called Movements In Season.
I've been grateful to connect with a small-yet-faithful group of listeners and fans. I enjoyed experimenting with and creating a homemade paper bag limited edition CD package that I had the privilege of sending to a number of different parts of the globe. The project gave me the chance to play a couple live sets that were a unique experience, and to play music again with my friend Jordan for the project has been fun.
Well, it's about time to release another album.
Better yet, how about two albums?
I'll be releasing a winter album called Release on December 9. Then I'll be releasing a spring album sometime in the ... well, spring. I'll be posting two songs from the upcoming album this Monday, November 25.
The holiday season is upon us, and that means finals time for students, and finishing up big projects for everyone else. Enjoy some ambient music while you work this year.
The beautiful album artwork photograph was taken by Anton Novoselov.
Thank you for listening!
There are many shows coming up for Bora York and Elskavon in the coming months - would love to have you there!
- June 19, Amsterdam Bar, Saint Paul w/ The Ericksons
- July 10, Kitty Cat Klub, Minneapolis, w/ Gloss, Maple & Beech
- July 13, Honey, Minneapolis, w/ Party House (CD Release Show)
- September 7, Augustana College, Sioux Falls, SD
- September 14, Luverne Palace, Luverne, MN
full Bora York show details...
- July 19, First Avenue 7th Street Entry, w/ Budo
My wife Rebekah is a worship leader at our church North Heights Lutheran Church in the Minneapolis area. I play electric guitar and keys every other week or so. It's a lot of fun, and we love seeking and worshipping God together with some of our best friends.
Jon Wise is a worship leader with my wife, and he also does great video work from time to time. Here's a video for the upcoming sermon series called "Time." My Elskavon song "Seattle" is featured.