Sleep Research Facility should be credited for one of the best names in ambient music. Apart from that, Kevin Doherty was also responsible for the Nostromo release a few years ago. Nostromo was based on the first minutes of sound from the first Alien movie (Nostromo was the name of the spaceship) (*), and the music was as deep as outer space. (By the way: you cannot find this release anymore by now, but Cold Spring Records has announced a re-release later this year).
Two new releases of ambient pioneer Robert Rich recently caught my attention. Both are related to visual performances, and while they are very different, they represent the many facets of this prolific ambient music legend.
In 2006, Cold Spring records has re-released a record from 1993. It only recently came to my attention, so I would not have written about it on this weblog (for it would be ‘old news’) – if it’s thematic content wouldn’t be so shocking.
John Watermann‘s album is called ‘Calcutta Gas Chamber’ – and that about says all. Story goes that the recording artist has visited India in the early 90’s and came across nightmare-ish giant gas chambers that the Indian government used for ‘population control’.
‘Sistereis’ is the opposite of a ship’s maiden voyage. It’s a ship’s doomed final voyage.
“All was as it had been upon my previous visit, save that the picture which I have described as having hung at the end of his bed had been cut out of it’s frame, as with a knife, and was gone. With this last link in a strange chain of evidence I close my diary of the voyage”
“Weleer” (Formerly, in old times) is the well chosen title for the 2CD selection of work from more than 30 3″-cd’s that Rutger “machinefabriek” Zuydervelt released last years. Most of these will be very hard to find, so this album is a good starting point for those that want to know what sort of stuff the machinefabriek produces.
This prolific musician (from Arnhem, Holland) draws some international attention (how do foreigners pronounce titles like “gruis uit het plafond”?) with his noise and drone experiments, as well as with his lovely naïve electro-acoustics (not unlike Colleen or Goldmund).
Weleer is a varied collection, but not for the faint of heart: not everyone will like all of the tracks. It’s impressing that one man can deliver so much great work in such short time. Machinefabriek deserves all respect and praise for his work, and not only from Holland!
William Basinski has built almost his entire oeuvre on deteriorating copies of original tape recordings. (The Disintegration Loops may be the best example).
So, when reading about the new Alva Noto release, Xerrox, I had to suppress a ‘not again’ yawn..
“Via the technique of duplication the copy often contains mistakes and glitches that differ from the original. The mutating copy emerges as a new original and thereby provides space for development”
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…
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.
The past winter here was not very cold; it didn’t feel like ‘Winter’ at all. Australian composer Lawrence English must have foreseen this when he recorded the music for this album “For Varying degrees of Winter”, full of beautiful haunting electro acoustic music.
On this third solo project Arve Henriksen is accompanied by two fellow Supersilent members: Helge Sten (a.k.a. DeathProd) and Ståle Storløkken. Unlike most of the Supersilent albums Strjon breathes a natural, Zen-like balance and peacefulness.
Henriksen’s trumpet-playing is perfectly balanced with the almost chilling sound sculptures accompanying it.