Ambient Music Mixes & Reviews
Dec 01

December Drones
- Shortlist -

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!

The Unintentional Sea

RAFAEL ANTON IRISARRI - THE UNINTENTIONAL SEA
For his second release for the ROOM40 label (following 2010's 'The North Bend') took his inspiration from the story of the Salton Sea, a failed Californian river redirection at the turn of the 20th century.
"During the1950s, this ecological disaster was seized and rebranded by corporate land developers, flipping it into a dream getaway destination for West Coast elites. Before long, record temperatures and a rising level of water mineralization led to the mass death of fish and other wildlife, and in turn so too did the resort town's population, leaving behind a vast post-human deserted wasteland. This unintentional sea had given life and now has taken it away."
Musically, the landscape is quite dark too, most of it deeply embedded in layers of sub-level low tones.
"It's a record that sounds like staring at a vast ocean in light breeze - a rendering of the ocean calm before the inevitable storm."

Also on Spotify

RAFAEL ANTON IRISARRI - THE WITNESS


Below

DAVID WENNGREN & JONATAN NÄSTESJÖ - BELOW
Beautiful atmospheric collaboration of David Wenngren (Library Tapes) and Jonatan Nästesjö (Sweden), featuring four slowly evolving tracks - the kind of soundscapes often referred to as "glacial".
Starting soothing and almost unnoticeable, the tracks become "very present bodies of melodious sounds", with organ chords slowly breathing in and out again.
"We wanted to do something dark and organic something that changes and grows very slowly - like the nature."
They definitely succeeded: the music is as beautiful as the cover image itself. 

Also on Spotify


DAVID WENNGREN & JONATAN NÄSTESJÖ - BEFORE I LEAVE


Nov 28

Pomegranate Tree

Imagine this:

A museum dedicated to the ancient Egyptian art, with thirteen rooms ("fields"), divided in seven "areas", with a 64-channel soundscape accompanying the exibition combining abstract and somewhat haunting electronic sounds with partly edited, partly montaged texts spoken from ancient Egyptian poems (with titles such as The Book of the Dead, The Prophecies of Neferti, The Teachings of Ptahhotep).

Sounds like a soundscaper's dream, doesn't it?

Yet, this is exactly what Mark Polscher realised for(/with) the State Museum of Egyptian Art (Munich, Germany) for the project named "The Pomegranate Tree".

Nov 16

Bionulor - Theatre Music
Music for Coriolanus / Skazana

Bionulor theatre music

Compared to his previous album with reworkings of Erik Satie's music, Bionulor's "Theatre Music" is spectacularly different in sound.
But not in approach, however, since for this music Bionulor also applies his "100% sound recycling method", which means he's strictly re-using pre-recorded material: classical instruments for "Coriolanus", and voice recordings from actress Sylwia Oksiuta performing "SKAZAna".
Although in both cases, the source is not easily recognisable.

Nov 15

Tussenlicht

The name may not immediately sound familiar, but "Anne Chris Bakker" should ring a bell if you carefully checked out the releases by Jan and Romke Kleefstra (internationally acclaimed for their Frysian soundscape poetry and Piiptsjilling collaboration with Machinefabriek and Mariska Baars).
Anne Chris Bakker
has worked with them on various releases"Wink", "Griis" and a live performance cassette released in March 2012.

"Tussenlicht", recently released on Somehow Recordings  (where the physical version is available), is Anne Chris Bakker's second solo project (after "Weerzien", 2012). Its dreamlike poetic atmosphere is definitely resembling the Piiptsjilling/Kleefstra recordings, and yet there is something remarkably different...

Nov 10

Autumn Trumpets
N.P. Molvaer + Moritz Von Oswald; Arve Henriksen; Saffronkeira + Mario Massa

This year's fall sees the (somewhat) simultaneous release of three albums that feature the trumpet as their main instrument, pairing its sound to an (ambient-) electronic background.
And here's this review's spoiler: if you like one, you'd probably like all three! 

Molvaer-Oswald

NILS PETTER MOLVAER & MORITZ VON OSWALD - 1/1
On his latest release, "Baboon Moon" (2011), Nils Petter Molvaer explored guitar-based soundscapes, but his latest takes a completely different turn. Of course, Molvaer's music has always searched for a delicate balance between the organic, emotional sound of the trumpet and abstract electronics - and Moritz von Oswald (of Basic Channel/Rhythm & Sound fame, to name just two of many) has previously ventured out into jazz areas, especially with the Moritz von Oswald Trio.
But this collaboration brings both artists' music up to a completely different level.
'1/1' sounds as if Nils and Moritz were destined to work together from the start.

Nov 01

Selaxon Lutberg

There is a remarkable discrepancy between the childhood excitement beaming from the cover photos, and the dark claustrophobic chords in the opening track of Selaxon Lutberg's " Simboli Accidentali".

And it's only about halfway into the album when the dark and gloomy atmosphere, created by almost unrecognisable sounds of guitar, cheap organ and worn tape/vinyl loops, gives way to a little bit more light, just before retracting again into a more comfortable darkness.

The liner notes reveal only slightly more about the purpose of this journey:

Oct 26

Antonymes

To celebrate its 50th release since 2009, Hibernate Records could hardly have chosen any better release than Antonymes' "There Can Be No True Beauty Without Decay".

Not only because Ian 'Antonymes' Hazeldine's music seems to represent all the things the label stands for ("both abstract and melodic but always with a hint of melancholy."), but also because the inspiration for this album came from his debut album "Beauty Becomes the Enemy of the Future", which was originally released in the same year, 2009.

Oct 13

Piano Interrupted

The collision of different backgrounds can sometimes yield amazing results.
As Piano Interrupted impressively demonstrates with their new album "The Unified Field".

Tom Hodge (UK) and Franz Kirmann (France) are not only from different countries, but also come from different musical worlds: Tom being a classical and minimalist composer, Franz coming from the world of electronica, pop and techno.
Combining such different backgrounds has of course been done before. Many tried, some succeeded, many failed.
But not often the result was as sparkling and refreshingly original like this.

Oct 13

Open

The ambient tree has many branches. In fact it's hard to pinpoint exactly what "ambient" music is. This has raised many discussions, as the music called 'ambient' ranges from strict and almost unchanging drones to techno beats one can even dance to.

As the genre evolves, some borders are crossed. "Ambient" music can sometimes involve introspective (and sometimes psychedelic) folk music, massive guitar chord walls... or even jazz.
Most of the times, ambient music also involves electronic sounds or processing acoustic sounds.
But not always: sometimes ambient music is created strictly using acoustic instruments.
Enter The Necks with their latest album called "Open".

Oct 08

tristesse - photo by Jenny Lyne

This mix was created especially for Headphone Commute.
Thanks to H_C for publishing it, and for the beautiful introduction words:

Autumn is here. Darkness slowly creeps up just a little bit earlier. Clouds get grayer and swell up with rain. Trees shed their colors and tighten their belts. And people begin to prepare for winter. But among all the shadows there’s a small ray of light. And with that glow comes the music… For today’s exclusive podcast, Peter van Cooten weaves in layers of haunting soundscapes spanning the gray-scale of the ambient universe. It’s a gorgeous soundtrack to the season of tears… I hope you will enjoy!

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