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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:

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.

Joe Frawley – The Hypnotist

Ambientblog

Hypnotist

Not exactly “ambient”, but definitely “Cinema for the Ear” as the composer himself calls it. And  indeed: the carefully orchestrated samples and sound fragments seem to tell a story without images. A beautiful tension is created in a dialogue between the electronic soundscape and the piano improvisations.

Bersarin Quartett

Ambientblog

bersarin quartett

The Bersarin Quartett is a bit hard to classify. If a subgenre called ‘lounge ambient’ (not to be shortcutted to ‘lambient’, please) existed, the Bersarin Quartett would be one of the first to fit in. Or maybe even define it. 
The Bersarin Quartett is not a quartet at all, as you might’ve expected: it’s just “Thomas”.  Thomas “Bersarin’s” music can best be described floating somewhere between Biosphere’s ‘Shenzou’ and Cinematic Orchestra without vocals.
‘Cinematic’ this sure is: string orchestra samples are used to full effect. It’s a widescreen soundtrack to non-existent films.
And it’s full of mixed emotions….

The Young Person’s Guide to Generative Music

Ambientblog

Dark Symphony

Koan, the music software that can be credited for creating a musical form that was neither “recorded” nor “live” (see previous post here ) did generate a lot of interesting musical projects.
Brian Eno’s diskette-release “Generative Music 1” may have been the most noticeable release, but certainly it wasn’t the only one that was interesting.

The Innocence Mission – We Walked in Song

Innocence Mission

It’s hard to tell what it is exactly that touches me everytime I hear the songs of The Innocence Mission. Is it the pureness (innocence?) of singer-songwriter Karen’s voice, reminding me of early 10.000 Maniacs? (This connection is no coincidence: Karen and Don Peris contributed to Natalie Merchant’s Ophelia).
Is it the open, seemingly simple, acoustic arrangements played by Don Peris on guitar and Mike Bitts on bass?
Is it the combination? Does it matter, anyway? 
What really matters is that The Innocence Mission released at least TEN records, and that none of these gained any serious attention in Europe. Please, notice them! You can start with ‘We Walked in Song’ and work backwards from there…

Nest – Nest


Ambient music collectors no longer visit the local record shop to find the latest releases. Most of the times, the titles are not even stocked. Still, the genre is lively and growing bigger than it ever was. Not through the ‘old’ distribution channels and brick and mortar shops, but through the internet mostly. This weblog only covers a small tip of the iceberg of the music available.

Pole – Steingarten

Steingarten

Looking at the cover should be your first warning. Steingarten shows the kind of castle even Disney would have considered ‘over the top’. In a landscape you could never even imagine.
The warning seems to serve a purpose, because at first casual listen this album feels far more lightweight than earlier Pole albums. We did not expect this kind of poppy electronics from Stefan Betke!
Well: time to adjust the expectations and retry.