Ambient Music Mixes & Recommendations
Dec 24

Kinison - Goldthwait

The cover image and title of "Kinison - Goldthwait" may raise some questions, especially for those not living in America. From the website notes, we learn that "Saul is taking some form of inspiration from the well documented public feud between the American stand up comedians Sam Kinison (foul mouthed ranter), and Bobcat Goldthwait (Zed from the Police Academy films). The dispute (supposedly over who stole whose act) came to a head on U.S. 'shock-jock' Howard Stern's radio show, when a boozy sounding Kinison called up Goldthwait live on air, leading to a rather fiery showdown."

From what I read and heard about this incident, to me this just sounds like a pitiful, embarrasing moment of horrible, (so-called) shock-radio. So it's fascinating to find that this particular incident is the source of inspiration of this new Danny Saul album.
As Saul says about this: "The track titles may provide something of an 'ambiguous narrative' which the listener can take or leave."

On second thought, there is a remarkable resemblance between this album and the radio incident it was inspired by.

Dec 23

Time Lapse

"Time Lapse" is the first album released under his own name, but Wil Bolton is no stranger to music.
Since 2004, he has been recording as Cheju, but a he also created quite a lot of fascinating site-specific works.
Some beautiful examples can he heard on Bolton's website (I strongly suggest you take your time to listen to all sound samples provided there!)

Although "Time Lapse is labeled as Bolton's debut release, every single track (of which there are nine) demonstrates his experience in music and sound design. 
And the power of restraint.

Dec 18

Mystified - APBLH

Mystified is Thomas Park, a classically trained musician originally playing trombone and piano. From 2002 he started releasing electronic ambient music after working together with Robin Storey (Rapoon) and Nigel Ayers (Nocturnal Emissions). 

His discography is quite impressive (nine separate pages on Discogs!), and although his music is mostly categorized as atmospheric ambient/drone music, you'll also find more industrial sounds and noise among these titles. 

"A Pale But Lasting Hope" is one of Mystified's latest releases. A diverse 5-track album mastered by the renowned Robert Rich.

Dec 13

Mendel Kaelen RWWF

The first minutes of Mendel Kaelen's "Remembering What Was Forgotten"  are perfectly in line with its cover image: building from silence, slowly out of nothing, but gradually becoming clearer, crescending into an immersive and overwhelming wave of sound... before fading back to eternal rest.

The near 70 minutes of this album seem to breathe an immersive calm, the sound of nature's inevitability...maybe also the sound of 'Satori', a Buddhist term for " a flash of sudden awareness, or individual enlightenment".

Dec 10

Visual Ambient

Imagine yourself in deep sleep. Very deep sleep.
Unaware of your surroundings, unable to control images built from memories, unable to distinguish your dreams from impressions originating from the outside world. 

At times, following a gentle sleep cycle, your consciousness slowly raises - almost up to the point of waking up. At these moments, the outside world is more perceptible, you're vaguely aware of what's happening around you.

But not for long, because you gradually sink back to the realm of subconscious deep sleep.  

This mix was created in november, 2010. It was 'premiered' on Fluid Radio Mixcloud

Dec 04

Acrifolia Cover

"Lament" is the first full CD release by Acrifolia: a duo formed by Martin Corral and Duncan Meadows (the latter also joined Marconi Union in 2010)

There's not very much information about this duo, apart from the fact that both are using "acoustic and electronic recording techniques to produce an ambient sound world in which traditional instrumentation combines with contemporary soundscapes."

In fact that sums up Lament perfectly well, too.

Nov 28

pour les octaves

Personally, I'm not particular fond of analog storage media. In fact I'm glad we could leave these behind us and go digital.

But since digital music seems to be available anytime, anyplace and anywhere, there's a counter-trend of releasing music in a storage format that can not be easily copied - and thus appeals to collectors especially. 
Part of me can understand that when I hold an oldfashioned vinyl album cover, but I cannot really understand why anyone would prefer to release his music on audio-cassette only. 
Still, there are quite some cassettelabels releasing music nowadays. 

One of these is Peasant Magik, that recently released a 30 minute (C30) two track casette by Kyle Bobby Dunn, called Pour les Octaves.
 

Nov 25

hummingbird dream

The Ghost of 29 Megacycles (Australia) recently released a beautiful new EP-album called "The Hummingbird Dream".

Though this is the second release under this name (following up "Love Via Paper Planes"  from 2009), the main part of this new album is a long drone solo recording by Greg Thaw on guitar, organ and field recording. 

Part 1 of this "delicate two song cycle born from sleepless nights, morning silence and sadness" starts with a guitar based drone, slowly deconstructing - until the morning breaks.

Nov 20

Machinefabriek - Halfslaap
Rural Route No. 6

Halfslaap

Judged by its title ánd by its music, "Halfslaap"  (Half-Sleep) could have been a new release in the fascinating Slaapwel-series. But, surprisingly, it isn't. This is part 6 of the Rural Route subscription series, as released by Standardform.org.

All issues of this series have been released on extremely limited (150 copies each) 3"CD's, including a digital download of the music. 

But, to keep things exclusive (and satisfy collectors), the download option ends when the title is sold out!

Nov 14

Elian Whispers then Silence

If I would simply define "ambient" as "drone", or as "ignorable music", then Elian's "Whispers, Then Silence" would not really fit in here: this roller-coaster ride of electronic soundscapes is definitely not created for repeated playing in the background!

This is clear from the 15-minute title track opening the album: starting with a minimal vibraphone theme, there's a sudden atmosphere change in the middle, leading to machines running amok for seemingly endless minutes until the end of the track.

Nov 13

berger

There's not gonna be a lot of background information in this review. In fact, I do not know anything about this release - apart from the simple fact that it is created by Samuel Landry from Montreal, creating his minimal ambient using primitive means and scarce source materials.

This album may already be known to few under its working title Odes and Probes (the tracks had different  working titles, too).

It can be downloaded from Bandcamp for any price you care to donate.

Nov 10

Brian McBride - The Effective Disconnect
Music for "Vanishing of the Bees"

Effective Disconnect cover

The fact alone that Brian McBride is one of the founding core members of Stars of the Lid (along with Adam Wiltzie), is enough to raise a lot of interest about this new release on the Kranky label.
Or maybe I should say "buzz", considering the documentary this soundtrack was created for.

Inevitably, this record bears the mark of Stars of the Lid music: the use of extended string chords combined with electronic, the melancholic, "lamentable" overall sound - anyone familiar with the Stars OTL will immediately recognize this.

But this is not a SOTL album: it is a Brian McBride solo-album (his second, following 2005's "When the Detail Lost its Freedom).

And this means there are some noticeable differences, too.

Nov 08

QR Code: Scan or click to go to the Android market to download App

I'm very proud to announce the Ambientblog Android App release today.

With the Ambientblog Android App you can stream all mixes published on ambientblog.net directly to your Android device.
Currently that mean access to more than 40 hours of ambient music mixes!

While listening, you can also read the latest blog-posts, browse the entire ambientblog.net weblog – or do whatever else you like while the music runs in the background.

example screen 1
Oct 28

Piiptsjilling Live

On the debut release in 2008, Piiptsjilling was the name of the album performed by Machinefabriek & Jan Kleefstra, together with Romke Kleefstra and Mariska Baars
Following this remarkable debut, the original contributors have kept working together and performing in as well as outside Holland - to growing critical acclaim.

Now, Piiptsjilling is used as the name of the band.

One might think this kind of spoken word music, spoken in the Frisian language (Friesland is a province in the north of the Netherlands) would be of local interest only.
Luckily, the opposite prove to be true: the message of their music came across widely outside Friesland too. 

The new Piiptsjilling album, called "Wurdskrieme" (Cry of Words) is now released on Experimedia.net
Compared to the original Piiptsjilling album, it's a quite different view of the same concept.

Oct 24

Benjamin Dauer - Burning of Wine
"Sonorous Narratives"

Burning of Wine

Although "Burning of Wine" is presented as Benjamin Dauer's debut album, it is clear from the very first notes that this is not the first music he created.  
The tracks are extremely well-balanced, and created with a restraint that shows Benjamin's musical maturity. 

From the very first play I realised that this album would be among my favourite ambient music releases this year!

And here is another pleasant surprise: this album can be downloaded for free from the Distance Recordings netlabel website.

Oct 22

Engaged Touches

Celer's 'Engaged Touches' was the second release on the Home Normal label in 2009 - which in fact sold out before it even went on sale. 
This fact alone justifies this (1000 edition) re-release.

The somewhat misleading cover photo may trick an unsuspecting passenger into thinking this is a new Konono No. 1 or Staff Benda Bilili release (though on second view the image isn't even remotely african) - but the music tells quite a different story.

"...an absorbing combination of classic ambient, minimalism, and – perhaps as the most distinct characteristic – overwhelming romanticism. Longing, melancholy, nostalgia, and the like seem to be recurring themes in Will and Dani’s works."
(original liner notes)

Oct 20

Systems out of Chance

Ambient/Electronic albums with an added DVD have my extra attention, especially when the DVD includes surround version of the music. 

In this respect, Systems Out of Chance is a feast for the senses, because it not only contains fascinating music on CD, but also a beautifully constructed "three way dialogue between text, image and sound" (as Sam Gatherole, art writer, described it) on DVD.
Including a surround mix on the DVD! 

The Systems Out of Chance exposition was presented at the Parfitt Gallery in Croydon in march, 2010, as a result of a collaboration between Joe Evans (sound) and Craig Burston (images). 
"Six speakers and three portrait monitors were synched to create an immersive audio-visual triptych born out of a shared love of systems, chaos and the everyday'

Oct 17

Under the Sodium Light

Slow Dancing Society is Washington based musician Drew Sullivan.
"Under the Sodium Lights" is his fourth full album release for the Australian label Hidden Shoal Recordings.

Though the music on "Under the Sodium Light" can definitely be "filed under ambient", it also has a 'pop music'/'post-rock' feel that may also appeal to listeners outside the ambient genre.

Oct 16

Future Beauty

To celebrate the opening of the exhibition Future Beauty : 30 Years of Japanese Fashion at the Barbican (London), Janek Schaefer offers a 33 minute version of "Unfolding" - as a free download!

My advise: do not hesitate, and download it before the sendspace link runs out!

Oct 13

Since 1993, Susumu Yokota has built an impressive catalogue of more than 30 albums, and numerous EP's and 12"-es. 

On Kaleidoscope he presents 16 new tracks, over 1 hour of music.
Yokota can't be accused of making it easy for himself. But, even better: his musical ideas are still as fresh as if this was his debut release.

Oct 08

Streets, Dreams and Memories (mix)
Michel Banabila Showcase

Banabila - Streets cover

I guess I should start with a warning for regular visitors: this mix is different from what you're used to.

First: it's definitely not an "ambient mix", although there's quite a lot of ambience involved in this music. 
Second: it's not a compilation mix, but a mix featuring the music of one artist only: Michel Banabila.

Banabila (photo: Martijn Kappers)

Ever since I heard Banabila play a live set for VPRO's radio program Spleen (way back in 1983, mind you!), I have been addicted to his music. This particular track has remained one of my favourite over the years...although the sound quality slowly deteriorated because I had to copy it a few times from cassette to cassette to preserve it...(that's the reason it is not included in this mix).

Oct 03

Koude Handen

Along with two other (dutch!) musicians Machinefabriek and Michel Banabila, Matthew Florianz is one of the three "all time favourite artists" in my last.fm profile.
This obviously means I was eagerly awaiting the release of Matthew's new album "Koude Handen" ("Cold Hands"), his follow up to 2008's "Maalbeek"

"Koude Handen" is presented as a free download from Matthew's website - available as high bitrate MP3 or even as 24 bit FLAC (which, mind you, is even a better bitrate than standard CD can provide!). The album page also offers the complete artwork, as well as some beautiful promo videos.
And, to celebrate the release of this new album, Matthew also offers his previous release "Maalbeek" as a free download!

Sep 30

solo andata - ritual

Although their debut "Fyris Swan" was released in 2006, Solo Andata gained the recognition they deserved with the release of the "Solo Andata" album on the 12k label in 2009.

The fact that their work was mastered by Taylor Deupree and Giuseppe Ielasi - household names in the world of ambient / electronic music - will probably have helped to attract the attention, but the music created by Kane Ikin and Paul Fiocco in itself was (is) impressing enough to immediately classify Solo Andata as 'classic material' of ambient soundscapes. 

Their new album, "Ritual" is the debut release of a brand new label: Desire Path Recordings.
And what a debut it is to start a new label with!

Sep 28

Minamo - path

Together with the recent release of Rafael Anton Irisarri  another recent Room40 release came to my attention: "A Path Less Travelled" by Minamo and Lawrence English.

An album very well titled, since the five sonic electro-acoustic pieces on this album are indeed uncovering some musical 'paths less travelled'

Sep 24

Division Dialogue (Mix)
Mix Collaboration by Muttley & PvC

"Dialogue" by Doc Ross

"Dialogue" - Doc Ross

A collaborative mix by Muttley (Subversion Weblog) and myself.

The mix is divided in 'sets' getting shorter each round.
In minutes: 20-20-10-10-5-5.

Every 'set' (except the first, of course) is created as an associative reaction to the the preceding one.

Sep 20

The North Bend

If this album had been presented to me 'blind', without knowing anything about it, I doubt that I would have guessed that I was listening to the new Rafael Anton Irisarri album "The North Bend".  

I would probably have mistaken these rather dark repeating loops for a new William Basinski recording.

Sep 04

Invisible Ink

Though the title of Arve Henriksen’s opening track (Stille Veg, Quiet Road) was the working title for this mix, I finally decided to call it “Invisible Ink” - referring to the quote from Laurie Anderson’s track from "Homeland", which may describe the confused global state (and - if you wish -  the political state of Holland in particular):

Was the Constitution written in visible ink?
Has everybody here forgotten how to think? 
Is this great big boat starting to ... sink?”

But apart from this, this journey along the ‘Stille Veg’ may present some interesting encounters - some dark and mysterious, others enchanting and optimistic…

Aug 27

:Papercutz - Do Outro Lado De Espelho
(Lylac Ambient Reworks)

papercutz

Well here's for something completely different!

Usually, ambientblog is not the platform to promote portuguese electronic pop music - however adventurous it may be. But after releasing Lylac - adventurous electronic cut-up pop music featuring Melissa Veras on vocals, :papercutz main performer Bruno Miguel  grew fond of the ambient genre ("much because of my love for movie soundtracks") - and somehow managed to an impressive list of ambient music artists to rework the music on Lylac

To get you interested: "Do Outro Lado De Espelho - Lylac Ambient Reworks"  contains remixes by folks like Helios, Emanuele Errante, Simon Scott, Taylor Deupree, Autistici, Christopher Bisonnette, Jasper TX -  and that's not even everybody on the list!

Aug 22

Chance reconstruction

The very first release on the brand new Tench label comes in a digipack with beautiful landscape photography by James Luckett.
These sober, black & white, pictures perfectly fit the music of Marc Ostermeier on his new album: "Chance Reconstruction".

Though it's the first release on Tench, it's not the first work of Ostermeier, who has released earlier work (also in 2010) on Parvo Art (Percolate) and on Hibernate (Lakefront).

Aug 18

Thomas Koener - Nunatak - Teimo - Permafrost
The Tarkovski of Electronic Music

Koener

It’s not really a shame when you missed these albums when they were originally released in 1990/92/93.
Even though the original label (Barooni) was located in my hometown, I did not notice these releases until they were re-released on Mille Plateaux a few years later

With following album releases, Thomas Köner’s immersive drones found wider attention, and gained more and more recognistion. Albums like Kaamos, Daikan, Unerforschtes Gebiet, Nuuk and, more recently, La Barca) firmly established Köner’s reputation as the absolute master of immersive deep dronescapes.
And thus the interest in his back catalogue also grew. 

Recently, Type Records have re-released Köner’s first three albums on vinyl. For those that prefer the CD format, a 3-CD version of these remastered albums is now also available

So don’t let them pass you by this time: these albums are definitely classics of electronic and drone music!

Aug 16

Infra

Next to Johann Johannsson and Ólafur Arnalds, Max Richter is one of the pioneers of the 'post-classical' genre, a mixture of classical music, electronic sounds and rock music influences. 
Mostly the compositions in this genre are suble and not too complex, often slightly (ore not so slightly) melancholic - the kind of music that feels and sounds like it's written to be a (movie) soundtrack.  

So it should not be a surprise that Richter's Infra was originally written as a score for Wayne McGregor's ballet as performed by the Royal Ballet.

Aug 09

Rural Route

Shortly after his magnificient double album "A Young Person's Guide to KBD", Kyle Bobby Dunn delivers another two intricate drone tracks. This time on a limited edition 3" CD-R (including immediate downloads). 

Compared to the double album, the two tracks on "Rural Route No. 2" are sounding more 'industrial' and dark. Not exactly what you might expect thinking of nostalgic childhood memories...!

Aug 07

Somnium App

Robert Rich originally released Somnium in 2001 on DVD-Audio. The DVD format was dictated by the length of the three-part piece: it clocks in over 7 (SEVEN!) hours.

Apart from his vast catalogue of ambient music, Rich also is known for his unique Sleep Concerts in the 1980's. Somnium was a logical follow up to these concerts: it was designed to guide you through a good night's sleep.

Starting relatively 'active', then dozing off slowly into undisturbed deep sleep, before slowly becoming more lighter and 'active' again, Somnia could be the best medicine for anyone suffering insomnia.
(And that's a big compliment in this context!).
But even when you're not sleeping to it, it's a pleasurable listen - although probably only few would sit out the entire album listening actively.  

Somnium has become a landmark monument of ambient drone music. Not only conceptually, but also because of the endless calm and beauty of the musical environment.  

Almost 10 years after its initial release, this project return in the (revolutionary?) form of an App Album. Designed to run endlessly on your iPhone/iPod, it can play uninterrupted for much longer than the original seven hours. It will simply run until you stop it, or until your iPhone/iPod batteries run out.

Jul 11

Off Key - 2nd Edition
Mix by Daniel Crossley (Fluid Radio)

Off Key

Anyone even remotely interested in ambient, electronic, contemporary experimental and modern classical music will problaby have come across the Fluid Radio website.

Fluid Radio is in fact a lot of online things...it's a website reviewing essential releases, it's an online radio channel (two channels, in fact: with a custom made iPhone/iPod App to play them).
It  has it's own musical label (Fluid Audio, the label that has released 5 titles until now, all sold out immediately and legendary hand-packed).

A host of well-known artists (let's say the "giants" of the ambient-electronic niche) have submitted handcrafted mixes of their own work or compilations of their favourite tracks to be published on the Fluid-Radio mixcloud Channel.

In other words - Fluid Radio has rapidly become the legendary starting point to explore contemporary indie-electronic music.

Fluid Audio/Radio is mainly curated by Daniel Crossley, who must have an impressive network of musical relations. Also, the amount of hours in a single day is obviously not the same as mine, regarding the love and care that goes in the packaging of his releases.

For example: the recent Hummingbird release 'Our Fearful Symmetry' came packed in a beautiful cover also containing a pine cone, lots of cloves, a sealed envelope containing liner notes,  and another sealed envelope containing a photographic polaroid slide pressed between to pieces of glass from the 1940's...
The kind of release you don't want to open to play it (that's why I ordered two).

(By the way: I will not review the music, because it was sold out in one day and will not be released for digital download - so I guess there's no need for any further attention since all releases have found their home).

Jul 07

Lysar

The Berlin-based Klitorik website, hosting free audio releases as well as videos and a pdf-magazine, was unknown to me until recently.
I cannot understand why, since their first audio release was published way back in 2004!

After listening to their latest release - Marow's 'Lysår' , I'll definitely work my way back through the entire catalogue.

Jun 30

ruis

The Slaapwel  label, specialised in music to fall asleep to, is becoming more collectible with every release.

The previous (six) releases were all very beautiful (package ánd music-wise) and perfectly fitted the purpose they were created for: dozing away quietly, listening to music that is 'interesting and boring at the same time'.

Among the previous performers were Peter Broderick, Greg Haines, Machinefabriek + Soccer Committee and Jasper TX. (check [here] for some Slaapwel-reviews on ambientblog.net).

This seventh release in this remarkable series is this one, called "Ruis" by Somni451.

Jun 19

Paul Sharma - Safar
(Exclusive Alternate Track Versions)

Safar

Paul Sharma is a british painter and musician who was raised in India.
Regular Ambientblog.net visitors and podcast subscribers will probably remember the exclusive tracks he presented earlier this year: the electronic Raga tracks called "Embers" (vocal and instrumental version) 

His new EP, called Safar (meaning 'Journey' in the Urdu language) is now presented on the Test Tube netlabel.  

Jun 19

vuvuzela

Ever since I heard Pink Floyd's processed recording of a stadium singing (on ''Fearless", from 1971's "Meddle"), the sound of a mega-crowd organism fascinates me as well as the mass hysteria behind it frightens me.

In fact, I really HATE football, but the 2010 World Championship brought a new fascinating phenomena: the Vuvuzela.

The deafening sound (over 125dB, which is louder than a chain-saw) is dreaded by many for its annoying sound and danger of deafening.
Still, a stadium with thousands of these horns honking continuously is a fascinating sound, which I would love to hear properly recorded (in full surround, preferrably).

So, when someone posted a link to a short sample from the US-UK match, I simply could not resist....

Jun 13

The Samadhisound label, founded and curated by David Sylvian, simultaneously released three impressive titles. Together they present a landmark of the current experimental/electronic/ improv scene.
Be prepared: none of these albums are 'easy listening' music - in fact, a lot of this music wouldn't even be considered 'ambient'.

Kandahar

Jan Bang's album "...And Poppies from Kandahar" is a good start, because it contains the most 'accessible' music of these titles.

Jun 13

Toshimaru Nakamura - Egrets
Samadhisound Batch - 2

The Samadhisound label, founded and curated by David Sylvian, simultaneously released three impressive titles. Together they present a landmark of the current experimental/electronic/ improv scene.
Be prepared: none of these albums are 'easy listening' music - in fact, a lot of this music wouldn't even be considered 'ambient'.

Egrets

Next to David Sylvian, it's Arve Henriksen linking Toshimaru Nakamura's album to that of Jan Bang.
However, Henriksen's trumpet handling is quite different here: it includes the sound of the instrument itself (like the clicking of the valves), as well as the breathing of the player.
This perfectly fits the music of Toshimaru Nakamura - who is a household name in the Japanese onkyo (noise) and improv scene.

Jun 13

Akira Rabelais - Caduceus
Samadhisound Batch - 3

The Samadhisound label, founded and curated by David Sylvian, simultaneously released three impressive titles. Together they present a landmark of the current experimental/electronic/ improv scene.
Be prepared: none of these albums are 'easy listening' music - in fact, a lot of this music wouldn't even be considered 'ambient'.

caduceus

If I would compile a list of all time favourite albums, Akira Rabelais' Spellewauerynsherde (also released on Samadhisound) would definitely end up in the highest regions. 
Thus, expectations were mile-high when SamadhiSound announced the release of a new Rabelais album called Caduceus.

Jun 04

VorteX (Mix)
(for X-Rated)

Vortex

Since 1995, X-Rated (a weekly three hour radio show on dutch alternative music radio channel Kink FM) has been a "platform for 'difficult' music". Experimental, avant-garde, poetry, soundscapes: uncensored and uncompromised.

(The FM in the channel's name is somewhat misleading, since it's a cable radio station that can also be received via internet or satellite).

X-Rated's existence for more than 15 years is nothing short of remarkable, because Kink FM (daughter of Veronica Broadcasting company) is a commercial station, while the music X-Rated features is about the opposite of "commercial". Since dutch public radio has ended (almost) all of the experimental radio shows, X-Rated is about the last dutch program hosting experimental electronic music.

Needless to say that I'm very very proud to have X-Rated broadcast a full one-hour mix, especially created for this occasion. This mix was broadcast on the May 23, 2010 show (the first day of Pentecost).

Vortex was especially created for X-Rated. Thanks to Bob Rusche for broadcasting this on his show!

May 22

fluid radio
 

If you check out the Fluid Radio Mixcloud playlist,you'll find a lot of familiar names: it seems that almost all artists working in the contemporary electronic experimental music field have contributed one or more mixes themselves. Most of these have appeared somewhere in one of my earlier mixes.
These mixes (which are also broadcast on the  ) make Fluid Radio one of the most popular channels on Mixcloud. Fluid Radio Webchannel

Apart from that, Fluid Audio represents a label that has released some impressive music in equally impressive packages...!

The mix presented here was created specifically for Fluid Radio. It is no 'head-tail' mixtape, but a collage of fragments that are represented in a different context and, doing so, get a different musical meaning.
Like all of my other mixes, there are a lot of details presented in layers, creating new perspectives - 'enhanced' landscapes which sometimes may not be too comfortable but hopefully will be as fascinating to you as they are for me...

This particular mix was especially created for Fluid-Radio in march 2010. It was broadcast on Fluid Radio on May 20, 2010.

May 12

Bridge Carols

It must be something in the water or in the air over there in Portland, Oregon, resulting in a lot of remarkable music lately. Such as Bridge Carols, by Laura Gibson and Ethan Rose.
It's labelled as "electro-pastoral music" and I really couldn't think of a better description myself.  

It's not very often that I hear a new album that gives me the feeling it is exploring completely new territories by tearing down the limitations of existing styles and influences. Bridge Carols did exactly that. It got under my skin from the very first listen and felt like a mystery to be explored.

May 08

Yara

Marsen Jules' (Martin Juhls, from Dortmund, Germany) "Yara" was originally released on Autoplate in 2004.
The (six) tracks were only available as MP3 downloads (in 192 kbps only!). And unfortunately disappeared completely in 2006 (together with the tracks from the preceding MP3 album "Lazy Sunday Funerals") .
Marsen Jules continued to release more beautiful music on the City Centre Offices label, such as 2005's Herbstlaub.

Lucky for us, the Oktaf label decided to re-releases both lost albums. They are now available as a physical CD as well as digital downloads (with better bitrates). The tracks are fully remastered and the Yara CD also contains two additional tracks: 'Harfenklang' (Harp Sounds) and the 15 minute long 'Yara Variation'.

May 03

Field Recordings  come in many varieties. From the documentary recordings, as true to nature as possible, to environmental soundscapes, using recorded sounds to create a completely new environment.

Presenting music by recording artists like Jacob Kirkegaard, Chris Watson and Jana WinderenTouch Music is definitely one of the finest labels in presenting this form of sound-art.

After releasing her beautiful (live) recording "Heated: Live in Japan" last year, Jana Winderen's "Energy Field" is her new full album on Touch.
More-than-full, actually, for  (on-line) buyers also receive a free download of Jana's live performance on the Today's Art festival in Den Haag, in 2009.

May 02

Olan Mill

Olan Mill is the name of the duo (Alex Smalley and Svitlana Samoylenko) presenting "Pine", the long-awaited second release of the british Serein label.  

Serein started out as a net-label a few years ago. Following the succes of their Nest-release they reformed completely, and re-released their greatest succes as "Retold" - one of the most praised (re-)releases of 2009/2010. (BTW - the Serein website does not mention it, but most of their netlabel releases - including the original NEST EP - can still be found on archive.org.)

Following up a release like that is not an easy task. But Olan Mill lives up to the expectations, without simply 'copying' the Nest success formula.

Apr 24

Herfsttonen

As the musical part of the "Landtonen" festival in november 2009, "Herfsttonen" (Autumn Sounds) celebrated the local district of "Okkenbroek", near Deventer (in Holland).

This may sound as if it is interesting to local citizens only.
Not true! - That would mean the large part of the world would miss this great project!

The three compositions presented here are very different from each other, but they are linked by the theme, and by the environmental sounds of Okkenbroek. This album deserves to be heard out of the local context, too, because it is dedicated to preserving the kind of rural life that may disappear all too quickly.

Apr 16

Loscil

In the last ten years, Scott "Loscil" Morgan has built himself quite a reputation in creating fascinating ambient music.
"Endless Falls" is the follow up to 2006' "Plume" (not counting last year's EP "Strathcona Variations"). 

The cover image immediately takes us to the main theme of this album: Rain.
Pictured through a bright glass window. Not too dark - fresh - welcome even, to settle down the dust.
That's in fact a description of the atmosphere of the album,  too.

Apr 14

[Antonymes] - Beauty Becomes...
...the Enemy of the Future

[Antonymes]

[antonymes] (Ian Hazeldine, UK) released his album, titled "Beauty Becomes The Enemy of the Future" , in different formats.
Unfortunately, the special edition (a beautiful clothbound book with photographs and litho prints) was only released in a limited edition of 30 and quickly sold out!

If you want to see what you (and I) missed, you can still visit these Fluid Radio webpage, who made it album of the month. The special release package will surely have helped in this decision, but not the package alone. The music still makes the other two versions worth checking out!

Apr 11

Music for Real Airports

"Music for *Real* Airports..." ?? Reading the liner notes, I guess another proposed title for this album could have been "*Real * Music for Airports" :

"...a contemporary reply to Brian Eno's work from the 70s."
"...a more accurate update to Eno's work, and a to a degree, a riposte."
"...Some members of The Black Dog were disappointed by Eno's treatment of the subject in 1978 and have been considering how to produce a more meaningful response ever since."

Wow...The Black Dog re-defining and upgrading the classic album that practically defined the ambient music genre???

Apr 10

Left Cincinatti

After exploring various diversions of his musical art-form, Left Cincinnati feels like a 'return to form' of the sounds Joe Frawley presented on his 2008 album "The Hypnotist".

The desolate piano sounds from the opening track Plain Yellow Dress immediately bring you to deserted playgrounds of your mind, with cutup fragments and almost ungraspable vocal samples.

Apr 09

Cinta Cita - part 2
DJ Rich-Ears Guest Mix

Cinta Cita 2

"Cinta Cita - Meeting with the Tape" is the second 'guest mix' created especially for ambientblog.net.
(The first was Muttley's "Isolate").

Cinta Cita is a 2 1/2 hour journey by DJ Rich-Ears, presented in two parts.
This is Part 2  (Part 1 can be found [here]).  

"Ambient as atmosphere. Ambient as the cusp of melody and texture. Here we have an elegantly complex woven soundtrack (by DJ Rich-Ears) from the Lowlands that takes us through time, back and forth, from the familiar, the rare, the digital and the analogue. Let it be the soundtrack to a moment where everything slows down and re-engage with yourself and your surroundings."
Robin Rimbaud / Scanner / april 3th - 2010

Apr 04

Cinta Cita - Part 1
DJ Rich-Ears Guest Mix

Cinta Cita, Part 1

"Cinta Cita - Meeting with the Tape" is the second 'guest mix' created especially for ambientblog.net.
(The first was Muttley's "Isolate").

Cinta Cita is a 2 1/2 hour journey by DJ Rich-Ears, presented in two parts (Part 2 can be found [here]).  

"Ambient as atmosphere. Ambient as the cusp of melody and texture. Here we have an elegantly complex woven soundtrack (by DJ Rich-Ears) from the Lowlands that takes us through time, back and forth, from the familiar, the rare, the digital and the analogue. Let it be the soundtrack to a moment where everything slows down and re-engage with yourself and your surroundings."
Robin Rimbaud / Scanner / april 3th - 2010

Apr 03

A Long Journey

The cover: a vaguely faded photograph of a red-headed girl swimming. 
Titles like: "Morning Arrive on the Island", "The Moon Reflecting On The Surface Of The Ocean", "Within New Trees", "A Quiet Pond", "Haze From The River".
The sound: light-natured, never dark or threatening, perfectly in line with the track titles..

"A Long Journey" by Chihei Hatakeyama  is a great release to celebrate the fresh Spring season.

Apr 03

Slow Films

Headphone Commute recently published a beautiful mix created entirely of tracks published on the Home Normal label. Although all tracks in the mix are interesting enhough to check out the full CD's, I had to restrain myself when visiting the label website. 

So I decided to start by ordering the latest release by Ian Hawgood (also Home Normal's label owner): "Slow Films in Low Light".

Apr 02

Optofonica #1
State of the Art!

Optofonica

The Optofonica Project - platform for synesthetic media and sound spatialization - started in 2006 in Amsterdam. They have presented their immersive works on Sonar and Sonic Acts, presenting surround cinema and the Optofonica Capsule which must have been quite an impressive experience!

Mar 27

Einn

Though Cliff Child may sound like one person's name, it's actually two: Iceland's Sjorn Björnsson (creating the sounds) and Robjn (producing the tracks and creating the artwork).

In anticipation of the first, self-titled, album to be released this summer, they offer their first 6-track EP 'Einn' as a free download. Find it on SoundCloud.

Or, if you prefer, get it from their weblog at http://cliffchild.wordpress.com/.
This weblog also contains some fascinating videos to go with the sound...(of which "The Middle" is my absolute favourite!).

Mar 27

Steve Brand - Circular Scriptures
"Time is not actually linear"

circular scriptures

Circular Scriptures is the very first (and until now: only) release of a brand new label: Relaxed Machinery, a label owned by John Koch-Northrup (previously a co-owner of AtmoWorks), claiming that "all artists receive 100% of their release".

That fact alone sounds like a good enough reason to track down this album on one of the major download outlets or get it as CDR from the Hypnos store.

Mar 20

Brian Eno's Generative Apps
...for a few dollars more....

Trope

Because I was stupid enough to leave my beloved Cowon D2 MP3-player in the train (and no one was honest enough to return it), I had to decide about a new MP3 player. 
I am definitely not an Apple fan (for reasons I will not elaborate here), but I was tempted to go for the (G3 32 Gb) iPod Touch, simply because of all the extras it has to offer besides the simple MP3 function.

The first app to go for was Brian Eno's "Bloom" - only to discover that Bloom was recently followed up by Trope, also created by Brian Eno and Peter Chilvers.
A third offspring of this generative music applications is "Air", containing the vocal samples of Sandra O'Neill.
The good news: obtaining all three of these apps will not even cost you EUR10 ($13)!

All three of these programs are very simple to use, but incredibly effective in its ambient beauty: start it, create a mood, tap the screen for generative seeds and then just let the composition flow...

Mar 13

[R]ecyclopedia [R]emix
...random points in the alphabet...

Frans Friederich

Let me begin with a warning: this mix is quite unlike the previous ones!
Though there are quite a lot 'ambient moments' to enjoy, it cannot be qualified as 'ambient music mix' because it contains a lot of other musical elements too.

This mix was created especially for Frans Friederich - a dutch musician currently working on a megalomaniac project he started in 1997: Recyclopedia.
One single full CD for each letter in the alphabet.
26 CD's recycling and rewriting musical history associatively...!

Frans Friederich's musical history shows a variety of styles: he played in jazz-, ska-, and big-bands, but also in experimental acts like Dull Schicksal and Trespassers W.  This musical diversity is also heard on the Recyclopedia albums: it's a musical roller coaster ride with Friederich himself joining the musical extremes in his own personal style.

In 2009, Friederich completed the "Recyclopedia Q" album - which contains beautiful ambient music created together with soundscape artist Robert Kroos. 
(So, by now, about 65% of this project is finished - with this average output the entire Recyclopedia will be completed around 2017!)

When I started this Recyclopedia mix, I originally wanted to focus on the many ambient music pieces throughout the series, creating an ambient mix and leaving out all other music. But the nature of the project decided otherwise.

Mar 06

KBD cover

When it comes to 'classical droning', Stars of the Lid are the reference point. While there's some debate whether their music is Brilliant or Boring, they simply prove good music can be both.

Comparisions always are a bit risky - as music deserves to be judged by itself, not by comparision.
To me, 'A Young Person's Guide to Kyle Bobby Dunn', the new double CD by the Canadian composer Kyle Bobby Dunn (now residing in New York), has the same touching quality as most of Stars of the Lid's music, that's why I had to mention them.

Mar 05

SAFN cover

Recently, someone told me that it's virtually impossible to get an ambient music album released, while on the other hand labels fall over each other in their enthousiasm to release a new noise title. 
(Note we're talking about physical releases here, not about netlabels!)

To be honest, I can't say I'm much of a noise addict. There's hardly any good opportunity to play it at home (without tough family protests),  and I was not particularly enjoying most 'noise-for-noise sake' live performances I've seen.

But on this recent release, Bjarni Gunnarsson (born 1980, in Iceland as you can probably guess by his name), explores both ambient and noise music at the same time - crossing the borders with a stunning result.

Feb 28

Subversion Logo

Not long ago, Muttley's "Isolate" mix was published on Ambientblog as a guest mix.
Muttley's own Subversion weblog hosts a lot of his mixes, as well as the 15 Minutes of Fame series. 

The SubVersion 15 Minutes of Fame format dictates that any mix should contain no more than 10 tracks and last no longer than 40 minutes. That's an average of 4 minutes per track.
So, when asked to do a guest mix for this weblog, I had to change my usual approach.

In the 'collage' mix format I mostly use, 4 minutes is about the maximum time any included sample gets played - usually far more tracks overlay at any single instance.
So I had to restrict myself in that matter, to create a 'mixtape' mix format for this particular issue.

Feb 16

Though most of the ambient music albums (unsurprisingly) will appeal to ambient music devotees only, every now and then an album appears that transcends the genre border and also appeals to a more 'pop' oriented public - without explicitly becoming pop music. Parks' new album "Hidden", is such an album. 
Parks is Igor Bystrov from St. Petersburg, Russia. He has been creating music since 1990 as 'Project Parks', releasing seven titles until now of which "Umber" (2001) is best known since it has been re-released by Infraction records in 2007. Before starting Parks he studied music, playing the trombone (and) participating in a jazz orchestra. 
"Hidden" shows all details of an ambient classic. Bystrow is not only building his atmospheres from layered sounds, but adds some very strong melodies to them, and some sparse rhythms. With the exceptions of September.Koivisto (5'54"), all tracks on Hidden are all between 8 - 10 minutes long, and take their time to develop. The 'pop ambient' feel is even stronger on the three tracks containing vocals (apparently female, but since there's no reference to the singer in the liner notes I would not be very surprised is it turned out to be Igor's own voice). 
Opinions may differ about the vocals, however, depending on your taste. The whispering vocal parts add a melancholic dimension, but personally I find the vocal parts a bit too unstable to be impressive. That's why I definitely prefer the instrumental tracks. 
From his somewhat enigmatig biographical notes on myspace, http://www.myspace.com/parksproject, I learn that Igor is looking for the sound he heard in his dreams, the sounds "that sounded always around when it was possible to catch silence". With its dreamy atmosphere, 'Hidden' clearly succeeds in catching this atmosphere. So it is especially fitting that the album finally concludes with the longest track, called "Perfect Silence".
Hidden is released by Infraction records (INFX048)
http://www.infractionrecords.com/shop.html
Parks [hidden]

Though most of the ambient music albums (unsurprisingly) will appeal to ambient music devotees only, every now and then an album appears that transcends the genre borders and also appeals to a more 'pop' oriented public - without explicitly becoming 'pop music'.
Parks' new album, called "[hidden]", is one of those albums. 

Parks is Igor Bystrov from St. Petersburg, Russia. He has been creating music since 1990 as 'Project Parks', releasing seven titles until now, of which "Umber" (2001) is relatively well-known since it has been re-released by Infraction Records in 2007.

"[hidden]" shows all signs of becoming an ambient classic. That is, if it can become wider known of course.

Feb 12

Once again: good news for ambient freebie hunters!
While classic distribution for ambient music gets harder and harder, the quality of netlabel releases only seems to increase. 
"Marea", released by Gastón Arévalo, is my first acquantance with the Passage netlabel http://passagemusic.net/index.php?id=27
Passage is the ambient music division of the Fragment netlabel presenting minimal techno, glitch etc.)
http://www.fragmentmusic.net/
Marea is it's fourth release since september 2009.
Gastón Arévalo (Uruguay, 1981) began playing real instruments, but over time developed a passion for electronic music - especially digital artforms re-creating fundamental aspects of nature. One might say that his music is like fractal images: organic yet diverse in detail. 
Each of the 8 tracks on Marea comes with it's own digital artwork which, like the music, are digitally created natural structures in itself. They, too, are diverse yet clearly from the same root. 
Musically, Marea presents a great set of drone-based music, the base drones subtly enriched with lots of electronic details. You may have to listen closely to unlock the details however. The 'hidden' rhythms in Hielo Norte,  the washes of warm guitar sounds on Maritim, the environmental field recordings (Delta) the 'echospace'-like hiss in some of the tracks... all of these details effectively immersed in electronic layers that are deep but never 'dark'. 
Combining the best of a lot of his peers, Arévalo delivers an instant classic for this young and promising Passage netlabel. 
Get it here:
http://www.passagemusic.net/index.php?id=27
Marea

Once again: good news for ambient freebie hunters!
While traditional distribution for ambient music gets more difficult than ever, the artistic quality of netlabel releases only seems to increase. Here's one of the latest proofs of that.

"Marea", released by Gastón Arévalo, is my first acquantance with the Passage netlabel.
Passage is the ambient music division of the Fragment netlabel presenting minimal techno, glitch etc.
Marea is Passage's fourth release since september 2009.

Gastón Arévalo (Uruguay, 1981) began playing 'real' instruments, but over time developed a passion for electronic music - especially for digital artforms re-creating fundamental aspects of nature.
His music resembles fractal images: organic yet diverse in detail. 
Each of the eight tracks on Marea comes with it's own digital artwork which, like the music, are digitally created natural structures in itself. Like the music, the images are diverse yet clearly from the same root.

Feb 07

Sonic Acts XIII - The Poetics of Space
Amsterdam, February 25-28

SAXIII

If you're in or maybe even anywhere near Holland (Amsterdam) between february 25 and 28, you definitely should not miss Sonic Acts  XII - "Spatial Explorations in Art, Science, Music and Technology.

This bi-annual festival must be one of Holland's most important event in experimental electronic music. But not 'just' music: the multimedia event also presents expositions, installations, conferences, sound walks, and of course a lot of other immersive aural experiences.

Feb 07

Thieves of Zozo

If you check their website, the about page states "haygurlhaygyrl wuddup wuddup/Bah-bah-bah, bah-bah baranne".
Thieves of Zozo obviously are not yet fully ready yet to present their debut album "Never Knows Best" in full.
Luckily, their myspace page has a bit more info.

Jan 29

Isolate (Mix)
Exclusive mix contributed by Muttley

Muttley profile picture

Isolate is the first mix published on ambientblog.net created by a guest.

Muttley (Michael Buckingham) is actively maintaining the Subvert Central weblog (hosting 60+ mixes now!), and also contributed some mixes to the Low Light Mixes weblog that I'm sure you are all familiar with.

Isolate is a continuous mixtape focussing on drone tracks. It's a great mix to listen to at night (and falling asleep to).

Jan 25

Sunday Song

Peter Broderick is not afraid to try out some new directions. With his music (ranging from minimal electronics via minimalism to new-folk), as well as with the ways to distribute them.
Some of his records were released on fairly wellknown labels as Type and Kning, or on lesser known labels as Slaapwel Records and Fang Bomb. But also on cassettes, freely available mixtapes, and now even using Flickr (the  web 2.0 photo sharing site).

As far as I know, he's the very first artist creating a 'Flickr Album' this way.

Jan 22

Porzellan cover

The Hibernate Sampler did a fine job: I was so impressed by the quality of the music that I ordered a batch of albums from the label. All of them were interesting enough to be reviewed here (and maybe I will).

But as much I enjoyed them, Porzellan's The Fourth Level of Comprehension was the one I played most repeatedly.

Porzellan is Francis Cazal. Classically trained composer and baroque violinist. The latter may be a bit confusing, since none of the music is very 'baroque-as-we-know-it'.
But, firmly rooted in classical composition techniques, Cazal obviously knows how to create a compelling composition.

Jan 19

No Accidents in Paradise

Contemporary electronic music is firmly rooted in Germany - I guess no one will argue that.
 
So is No Accident in Paradise, a four person "Live Ambient System", or freeform ambient music project. 

No Accident in Paradise combines live electronics and keyboards with sampled electronic music recordings and rather stunning visuals by Robert Seidel. They perform at unusual locations that perfectly fit their music: check the video of the Therme Bad Schandau performance (below) for a good impression!

Jan 15

Paul Sharma - Embers
[Exclusive Tracks]

Apollo - Paul Sharma

Paul Sharma's Embers is a beautiful electronic composition based on the Indian midnight raga Malkauns, and thus is very suitable for midnight listening (The Raga Guide indicates Late Night: 12 - 3).

"Malkauns is a serious, meditative raga, and is developed mostly in the lower octave (mandra saptak) and in a slow tempo (vilambit laya)."
(Wikipedia)

On this version the vocals are more in the middle octave as that suits Rajesh's voice, but there are instruments at the lower (and sub-lower) to compensate. The vocal piece starts with an alap (free or rhythmless tempo) and then a slow tempo vocal.

"It is a majestic and somewhat introverted pentatonic raga, which seems to have undergone quite a transformation over the centuries. Superstitious musicians describe it as a raga with supernatural powers, and some believe that it can attract evil spirits."
(The Raga Guide)


Jan 06

Language of Landscape - Memories Fade
...Under a Shallow Autumn Snow

Language of Landscape

For those of you that like their minimal ambient backgrounds combined with piano music (like Helios/Goldmund, Max Richter or Nest) this is a great gift: the 45 minute album "Memories Fade Under a Shallow Autumn Snow" by Language of Landscapes is saved from oblivion and now offered as free (!) download by the Phantom Channel label.

Jan 01

First, let me give my best wishes for 2010 to all of you!!

What better way to start the new year than with a brand new mix ánd a brand new design (thanks Ingmar from Planet KL!)?

The design change is symbolic, in a way: after publishing a lot of mixes in 2009, all of wich were created for radio broadcast, it is now time to take a further step and start publishing new mixes.
"Miserere" is the first of these brand new mixes to be published. 

ambientblog - design by Ingmar Hugen

"Miserere" has taken its name from the concluding piece: Gregoria Allegri's Miserere, as performed by the Tallis Scholars.