Ambient Music Mixes & Recommendations
Feb 09

Since it was founded in 2005, the Denovali label has grown into one of the most important European independent labels, exploring different (mostly experimental) genres.
Apart from releasing new music, they also have a fine taste in finding albums worth re-releasing. Often, the re-releases are paired to the release of a new album by the same artist.

Origamibiro Collection

In the case of Origamibiro (an audio-visual collective consisting of Tom Hill, Andy Tytherleigh and visual artist Jim Boxall aka The Joy of Box), the new album "Odham's Standard" is accompanied by the release of a 3CD/4LP package called"Collection", presenting their previous albums "Cracked Mirrors and Stopped Clocks" (2007), "Shakkei" (2011), and "Shakkei Remixed" (2012).

Feb 04

More Research

With "The Latest Research from the Department of Electrical Engineering" (2011), Michel Banabila dived deeper into more experimental electronic territory he started exploring on releases like "Spherics" (2001, 2003) and "Signals from Krakrot" (2008).
The sounds on this album are radically different from his more romantic, more acoustic ethno-jazz releases, but they never lost the characteristic 'human touch'.

On "More Research from the Same Department", Banabila is vigorously searching for the heart and soul of electrical machinery, like an explorer presenting his discoveries.

Feb 03

In the Shortlist sections, I will mention the albums that I enjoyed listening to, but couldn't find the time (or the right words) for a "full" review for. Still, I definitely think they deserve your attention, with ór without extra words!

Autistici - Attaching softness...

A collection of detailed microsound pieces including collaborative works with Calika and Henry Duclos. It includes the original full-length version of Attaching Softness to a Shell. About half of the (50 minute) album is reserved for the centerpiece "Attaching Softness to a Shell" (a track that also briefly appeared in the "Dream Calibration" mix from 2009).

Feb 01

Francisco López - Presque Tout
(Quiet Pieces: 1993 - 2013)

Presque Tout

Had this not been a release by Francisco López (who has been creating sound art and electronic music for over 30 years, continuously building on a massive catalogue of music and sound) on the Line Imprint label ("exploring the aesthetics of contemporary and digital minimalism" since 2000) - then I probably would have thought "Presque Tout" was a conceptual joke.

But it isn't.
It's perhaps the most radical release in ambient sound recording - its extreme minimalism perhaps only surpassed by the well-known '4'33"' by John Cage.

Jan 26

Broken Memories - Photo: Rxist13

If one of the criteria for 'ambient' music is that you can comfortably fall asleep to it, I guess you'd better skip this particular mix. Although it starts quiet and reassuring with soothing vocal chords from Silvestrov's "The Lord's Prayer", the mood disintegrates and sometimes can become rather unsettling - depending on your own personal 'incidental memories', of course.

For reasons I can't really explain, this mix works better if you listen on speakers instead of headphones - just let the airwaves flow for maximum immersion.

Jan 17

In the Shortlist sections, I will mention the albums that I enjoyed listening to, but couldn't find the time (or the right words) for a "full" review for. Still, I definitely think they deserve your attention, with ór without extra words!

Steiner - At of From a Distance

A remarkable cover that includes a remarkable album. Steiner (Stijn Hüwels from Belgium) has previously self-released a few albums, but this is his first for a 'real' label. Seven tracks blend in to one continuous, cinematic 35 minute mix.

Jan 13

Hymnal Remixes

In March 2013 and the months following, Benoit Pioulard (Thomas Meluch) caused quite a stir with "Hymnal", his fourth release for the Kranky label. Inspired by 'the ubiquity of religious iconography and grandiose cathedrals' he had encountered throughout a year spent in southeastern England and on the European mainland, he presented a unique mix of hazy psych-folk songs and ambient instrumental tracks, with the aid of labelmates Felix (Lucinda Chua and Chris Summerlin) and Kyle Bobby Dunn.

Almost one full year later, the 12 tracks from 'Hymnal' get extensive re-workings on "Hymnal Remixed" - a 19-track double album released on the Lost Tribe Sound label.

Jan 12

A Relation of a Journey cover

Now there's a cute little package: a 3" CD packed in a transparent geographical map, packed in a foldout postcard, packed in a beautiful black embossed paper envelope. Oh, the joys of holding a handmade DiY-artwork packages that is obviously created with love..!

Until now I had not heard of Steven M. Halliday in any way, and not much information can be found about him online, although he has "worn many hats throughout his career from producer to sound designer, musicologist to occasional film composer and consultant".
Also, I did not know anything about "A Relation of a Journey" - it was just someone's online recommendation that triggered my interest.

All the greater was my surprise when listening to this little gem: within the short timespan of just sixteen minutes, classical music, ambient drones, field recordings and experimental soundscapes merge into an adventurous musical journey.

Jan 11

Sometimes, a certain kind of ambient soundscapes are referred to as "glacial". Often, these are dark, slowly evolving soundscapes that evoke a desolate, solitary, atmosphere that can be associated with the vast arctic landscapes (although the sounds are not necessarily 'cold').

"Stillness" , a multimedia project by Esther Kokmeijer (cinematic landscapes) and Rutger "Machinefabriek" Zuydervelt (music) is literally "glacial", because it documents Esther Kokmeijer's journey to Antarctica in january 2013 and to Greenland in june 2013.
The video in 5 parts documenting these trips are subtitled "Millions of Winters, two summers" - with a perfectly fitting musical score performed by Rutger Zuydervelt.

Jan 04

In their relatively short existence (about 1.5 year now), the Moscow based Dronarivm label (curated by Bartosz 'Pleq' Dziadosz) has quickly worked itself to the upper category of quality labels focussing on contemporary ambient and modern classical music.

"15 Shades of White", a collection of 15 tracks (or 17, counting the bonus tracks with the digital download) - "different in atmosphere and sound but united by a common winter mood" - demonstrates why.

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