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Arve Henriksen – Cartography

Ambientblog

Cartography

Albums released near or in december tend to fall through the cracks of the end-of-year-list frenzy. They are not noticed in the year they are released and will not get through next year’s selection because they are released the year before.
Some of these albums deserve special attention to help them get noticed.
(Especially since a lot of music addicts strongly tend to focus on their peer-group’s lists which – in the end-  makes every one of them buy the same album collection..).

One of these titles is Arve Henriksen’s Cartography.
Trumpet player Arve Henriksen already gained some attention with precious albums on Rune Grammofon (Sakuteiki, Chiaroscuro and Strjon) and as a member of Supersilent (operating on the other side of the musical spectre, where ‘silent’ isn’t exactly the word that comes to mind ).

His latest, Cartography, released on ECM, is an amazing collection of thoughtful sounds. His trumpet playing sounds like Jon Hassell, the overall musical sound sounds like that of Nils Petter Molvaer (who’s trumpet playing, in turn, sounds like Jon Hassell).

Machinefabriek & Soccer Committee – Drawn

Ambientblog

Drawn

‘Opposites attract’. That’s quite appropriate when talking about Machinefabriek and Soccer Committee working together.

Their music seems quite incompatible at first: intimate acoustic folk vs. gritty electronics.
But Mariska Baars (Soccer Committee) and Rutger Zuydervelt (Machinefabriek) have been playing together more often in the past.

Jacob Kirkegaard – Labyrinthitis

Ambientblog

Labyrinthitis

You can trust Jacob Kirkegaard to come up with fascinating concepts. After recording the sounds of deep earth in Iceland and those of the deserted rooms of Tchernobyl, he now turns inward to record the sound of his own inner ear, using a medical technique used to diagnose hearing problems on young children. The recorded tones of his cochlea were used to create a fascinating installation for the Medical Museion in Copenhagen – which, judging by the photos of it – was visually as attractive as it was aurally.



Janek Schaefer – Extended Play

Ambientblog

extended Play

At first listen, the ‘post-classical’ music on Janek Schaefer’s new CD “Extended Play (Triptych For The Child Survivors Of War And Conflict)” resembles the quiet peacefulness of the compositions of Arvo Pärt – especially in the beautiful 24 minute piece “acoustic ensemble”.
But there are some disturbing details: most artist would go a long way to avoid the vinyl crackle-and-pops for a CD release like this. The parts of the acoustic ensemble piece are also represented as solo piano, cello and violin piece, which contain some  stops and re-starts breaking the flow of the composition quite unexpected.
Janek Shaefer is, after all, not primarily know as a post-classical composer but as a ‘turntablist‘…. 

The installation picture on the cover explains the performance we hear:

Hammock – Maybe They Will Sing for Us Tomorrow

Ambientblog

Hammock

The ‘making of’ of this album is a nice story to tell:

Hammock (Marc Byrd and Andrew Thompson) released three full albums (not counting ‘The Sleepover Sessions’) since 2005.
Most of these filled with quiet, guitar-driven ‘post-rock’, with some crossover to the ambient realm.
If that description sounds a bit like Sigur Rós – so does some of their music.

The Inventors of Aircraft – Unknown Language

Inventors

The Serein netlabel once again lives up to their expectations. With their latest release, ‘Unknown Language’ by The Inventors of Aircraft, the label now offers 17 free album downloads. All of which are quality ambient music, albeit in different styles. 
The latest one (#17) is “Unknown Language” by “The Inventors of Aircraft”.

Spiral Staircase / Mock Interiors

Ambientblog

To be honest I had never heard the name of Esther Venrooy until recently, when I was struck by a track on a compilation CD ‘Avontuurlijke Muziek in Brabant’ (‘Adventurous music from Brabant’, a freebie with a recent Gonzo Magazine). This fragment from her CD ‘The Spiral Staircase’ (released on Entr’Acte) definitely proved checking out in full.

Stephan Mathieu – Radioland

Ambientblog

Stephan Mathieu - Radioland

 Holger Czukay always used to mention ‘shortwave’ (radio) in the instrument credits on his album. The mysterious, vaguely distorted sound of shortwave radio has always seem to trigger the imagination of those interested in sounds of the unknown and unreachable.
Shortwave radio is a direct connection with uncharted territories. Its distortion and strange sweeping filter effects add another dimension to the radio broadcasts: the fleeting connection may be lost any moment. It’s as if you’re transferred through time and space to a world you did not know until then.
All of this magic gets lost when technology improves. The same stations may lose their attractivity when heard in full quality. They become part of normal everyday life (and then mostly prove to be as boring as the local stations).

In this time of world wide web global connectivity, where no place on earth seems out of reach, there’s an enhancing interest in shortwave sounds. For example, take “A Ghost in the Phase“, the latest in the series of the beautiful Low Light Mixes created by Dave Michuda. t’s a collage of shortwave samples and ambient sounds of artists using shortwave samples. Haunting and definitely worth listening.

Some of the shortwave fragments in this mix can be found on the Shortwavemusic weblog, strictly dedicated to found shortwave sounds.
Also included in this low light mix is a track from the latest CD by Stephan Mathieu, Radioland (‘Auf der Gasse’, also included below).

Machinefabriek & Jan Kleefstra – Piiptsjilling

Ambientblog

Piiptsjilling

Just mentioning Rutger “Machinefabriek” Zuydervelt’s releases could fill a blog on its own. In the high quantity of releases he’s able to maintain a very high quality standard, making it hard to pinpoint highlights in the continuous stream of new releases.
But there’s no doubt ‘Piiptsjilling’ belongs in the ‘Best of Machinefabriek’ list!

Piiptsjilling, by the way, is the name of a bird:Wintertaling, or Teal (Anas Crecca), in the Frysk language spoken in Friesland, northern Netherlands.

Lull – Like a Slow River

Ambientblog

Lull - Slike a Slow River

It is hard to imagine that there’s a direct link between Napalm Death and extreme ‘isolationist’ ambient. But there is, and ex-Napalm Death drummer Mick (MJ) Harris is the linking pin.

As Scorn he has created post-industrial dub (working with Bill Laswell, among others), and as Lull  he has createst some of the deepest, abstract ambient imaginable.