Jacob Kirkegaard – 4 Rooms

Jacob Kirkegaard - 4 Rooms

If you record a room’s resonation, feed back the recording into that room and record it again, and do this a couple of time so that the feedback gets stronger and stronger, will the result reveal the ‘soul’ of that room?
And will something in this ‘soul’ reveal the fact that these rooms were once busy with people (church, gymnasium, swimming pool, auditorium) but are now completely desolated?
And will you be able to hear the fact that these rooms are all located in the Tchernobyl disaster area?

This, as you may guess, is not intended as ‘easy background ambient’.  The result is not unlike some of Thomas Köner’s work – but it’s the concept that makes is almost frightening.

Martyn Bates and Troum – To a Child dancing in the wind

Martyn Bates and Troum

By definition, ‘ambient music’ cannot be ‘vocal music’ unless only wordless syllables are sung (by my traditional definition, that is). Recognisable text generally asks too much attention, and singing almost always requires chords that can be ‘remembered’ easily. Still – in the last year I have heard some great examples of music that defies this narrow definition. There are quite a few examples of “songs” that work very well with a clearly ambient, droney background. For a good example, listen to Wheely Down cover by the Uncertain Music Corps.

Banabila + Asid: Oh No Uaredero

Banabila + Asid

I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again: Michel Banabila’s music (a well-balanced fusion of electronic, ambient, jazz and ethnic music) deserves much more attention, and not only in Europe! 
To get a good impression of his versatility, you can check the myspace accounts listed below. Or read the ‘Hilarious Expedition’ weblog entry earlier. Or just click the icon below to listen to ‘Oh No Uaredeo’ with Salar Asid on violin).

Svalastog – Woodwork

Woodwork

Rune Grammofon does it again! Can you imagine what ‘electronic’ music based on the sound of a ram’s horn, a cow’s horn and a harpeleiki (a norwegian zither) could sound like? Well – in fact it sounds a bit like the compositions of Information’s ‘Biomekano’, because that’s where Per Henrik Svalastog comes from. Only this time the sound is much more natural (as opposed to electronic), due to the nature of the instruments used. This is a complete new definition of the electro-acoustic genre. Fascinating!

Helios – Eingya

helios

Although Keith Kenniff’s (aka Helios, aka Goldmund) music is labelled as ‘ambient’ in fact it’s nothing like it. At least not in my definition of the genre. There’s way too much melody and rhythm in it, you could even hum along…
It’s not just strictly electronics – there’s a soft guitar, piano, laid back percussion. This is the sort of music that feels like a warm bath. It’s very ‘friendly’ music…opposite to the dark threatening atmosphere that ambient drones sometimes have.
Sounds a bit like Susumu Yokota on his better works, and, yes indeed, Goldmund.

Sacred Dub Podcasts

Sacred Dub Podcast logo

If you’re a fan of the music of Bill Laswell, then probably you’re also one of the followers that cannot seem to get enough of that stuff! Check out www.sacreddub.com.
Apart from a wealth of information, hot news, and an extensive discography, the collection of downloadable podcasts is especially interesting. At time of writing there are already 13 available, each one lasting one hour, and complete with full track details!

As the title suggests, these podcast focus on Laswell’s (ambient-) dub experiments. Apart from Laswell’s own music there’s also interesting material from artists closely related to his style. The nonstop mixes are available as 128 Kbit MP3-files, which is good enough to listen on your MP3-player. Polish up your internet connection and start downloading before it’s too late!

Modern Institute – Excellent Swimmer

modern institute

Ambient electronic music sometimes seems to lack self-relativism and humour. That’s why track-titles like “ECM Haircuts” or “Sign Everyone in Iceland” call for immediate attention.

“Excellent Swimmer” – the latest Modern Institute Album on Expanding Records – has just the right mix of relativism and seriousness, and a perfect blend of electronic and acoustic sounds too..

It’s Martina Bertoni (on cello) and Teho Teardo (on everything else) – with a little help from Mark Beazley (Rothko) on the track you can listen here (called “post.ino”). 

“Excellent Swimmer” defies standard genres; there’s quite a lot of references found in it…sometimes it even reminded me of the Penguin Cafe Orchestra.

Nice. Or more than nice – Great!

Kerbaj’s Environment

Environmental ambient music. Peace & Quiet, Whales, Birds. The reassuring sounds of the city. The dreamlike landscapes of your subconscious mind.
Most of us hardly have any serious worries.

Mazen Kerbaj is a musician playing improvised music using his trumpet in a sort of Arve Henriksen style.
He is living in Beirut. Hís environmental sound at this very moment is the sound of the Israeli airplanes bombing his city.

On the night of 15/16 july 2006 he recorded this track (“Starry Night”) on the balcony of his flat in Beirut.
This is where environmental music gets very, very frightening.

Bill Fontana – Harmonic Bridge

Tate Modern Turbine Hall

…And while in London, the inevitable visite to the Tate Modern Museum brought an unexpected auditive experience:Bill Fontana’s ‘Harmonic Bridge’ sound installation.
Just imagine a massively immersing multi-channel sound in the Turbine Hall pictured above!

In this installation, the Millennium Bridge acts as a giant string instruments. The processed sounds can be heard in the Tate Turbine Hall, as well as in London Underground’s Southwark Station (both locations are linked by this Millennium Bridge).

You can find more information HERE
“A network of vibration sensors have been placed within the bridge turning it into a vast stringed instrument which plays an ever-changing musical composition based on it’s surrounding environment. The noise created by pedestrians passing overhead, the wind, bicycles and the architectural elements which make up the bridge have been transformed into a sound installation which can be heard simultaneously in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall and also at Southwark Underground station.”

The sound from the bridge is picked up through “accelerometers” and is processed and transformed into “live sonic mappings”. As this sounds like a live (real time) process, I wondered why the sounds faded sometime to periods of silence – as this resulted in a bit of a pre-recorded feel..
The answer is in the project description on the artists website: “The work would enter the space as a slow moving wave, emerging from the ground tone of the background hum and then slowly decaying back into it.”

This installation is extended until august, 23. So when you’re heading for London be sure to visit the Tate Turbine Hall. Use the Underground, get off at Southwark Station and be sure to bang the bridge heavily while crossing it!

Whitney Music Box

Whitney Music Box

'Krazydad' Jim Bumgardner created quite a few amazing projects (involving Flickr photographs, for example, such as a caleidoscopic screensaver based on flickr photos). 
This particular one is based on the musical theories of John Whitney, as described in his book "Digital Harmony". While the theory may be for diehards only, most people will simply just enjoy the harmonic aesthetics. Play and enjoy!!

Your Life in the Bush of Ghosts

Eno-Byrne-cover

Those of us that bought the original album back in 1981, would never have dreamt anything like this would ever be possible…:
To celebrate the re-release of Brian Eno & David Byrne’s “My Life in the Bush of Ghosts” there’s an opportunity to remix two of the tracks yourself.
From the special remix website, you can download track-packs for “Help me Somebody” and “A Secret Life” and start working on them yourself.
Re-upload your mix, and you’re in..!

The Beethoven Time Warp

9BeetStretch cover

Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is part of mankind’s collective memory – everyone knows and recognises it (or at least parts of it).
Can you possibly imagine how this 74 minute symphony would sound, if it was stretched to 24 full hours? I bet not. Still, it’s worth a try. Leif Inge is the man who actually did this, and the resulting 9BeetStretch is unforgettable. If there’s a sound of infinity, this must be it.

Uncertain Music Corps – Wheely Down

Wheely Down

The musical worlds seem far apart, but still there’s is a firm connection between (English) folk music roots and ambient drone music. (Just think of the drone of the bagpipe..)

This track is a beautiful reworking of the original Richard Thompson song (from “Henry the Human Fly, 1972“). Mark ‘Uncertain Music Corps’ Harrop revives this old time original and provides it with an ambient background that emotionally enhances the song and brings it back to life in a very contemporary way.

Loscil – Plume

Loscil - Plume

Just mention the words ‘Kranky‘ (for the label), ‘Loscil’ (for the artist alias of Scott Morgan) and ‘Plume‘ (for the cd title), and the experienced ambient listener that will know what to expect.  
This is the fourth full cd release since 2001 (after Triple Point, Submers and First Narrows). Again, it’s very good, as were the ones before. Comfortable atmosphere, beautiful sounds, never boring. And extremely peaceful.
“I opted to choose the better improvised passes and merely mix them in and out rather than cut them up. I think this leaves a lot more natural space and balances the heavily structured and repetitive electronic elements with more organic performed layers.”

And if this wasn’t enough, the free net release Stases can still be downloaded here!

LUCHTKASTELEN – Castles of Air

The ‘Luchtkastelen’ (Castles of Air) Festival focuses on new music for church organ. |The festival will feature organ performances, improvisation performances, as wel as performers ‘remixing’ classical organ recordings.
This follow up to the 2000 edition of this festival can be enjoyed on three days on different locations: April 22 in Utrecht, may 13 in Amsterdam and may 20 in Rotterdam.

Apart from all live performances, traditional church organ music will be remixed by Matthew Florianz, Arno Peeters and myself.
Asma Morgana” is my deconstructed version “Andante Cantabile“, played by famous dutch musician Feike Asma. Mixed by … yours truly !! (Click ‘Read More’ to listen)

Check the website link for more information and program details in English.
[The remaining post is written in Dutch.]


luchtkastelen poster

Hector Zazou / Bernard Caillaud

Quadri+Chromies cover

The music on this disc is just incidentally something remotely ‘ambient’. Most of the time it’s experimental electronic music, vaguely remembering the avant-garde scene from the late 60’s and seventies. At first listen, that is. When you listen more closely, you’ll hear that this music perfectly fits the 2006 timeframe. It’s clicks, cuts, hums and bleeps, but there’s something most other recordings in this field mostly seem to lack: emotion. (It’s exactly that in which this music resembles Murcof’s ‘Remembranza‘)
It’s the perfect blending of Zazou’s electronics with strings (played by Archea Strings) that makes this music stand out compared to a lot other releases in the same field. That, ?nd the help of some of his friends: Brian Eno (performing onthree tracks), Ryuichi Sakamoto, David Sylvian and Peter Buck (!? Peter Buck of R.E.M. fame!?).
It’s not often that projects like this ‘touch’ me like this one does: most are too arty, or too pretentious, or just not interesting. This project proves that Zazou is a master in this field of experimental electronic and it must have been the work of Bernard Caillaud that inspired him to do this.

Apart from the audio cd, the package contains a DVD with the 5.1 surround remixes (!) of the music accompanying the digital artwork of Bernard Caillaud. There is no direct (intended) relation between the music and the computer art, but both perfectly fit each other. This really turns your living room into a modern art gallery!

Quadriz

Both discs are packaged respectfully, along with 10 reprints of Caillaud’s work (one for each track).
Commercially, this release may be a risky one when compared to Zazou’s earlier projects. Praise to Materiali Sonori (the label) for taking that risk.