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Susanna and the Magical Orchestra – Melody Mountain

Ambientblog

melody mountain

To say that I was touched by “Melody Mountain”, by Susanna and the Magical Orchestra would be an understatement. In fact, it hit me quite hard.
It may seem a bit strange to have an entry on this blog about a vocal cd containing pop covers…if it weren’t for the music in the background. This sparse, mainly electronic music will certainly appeal to the ambient music fan. It is created by jaga Jazzist keyboard player Morten Qvenild and produced by Deathprod (Supersilent) – who is well known for his own ambient music and his collaboration with Biosphere. Backed by this (almost ambient) soundtrack, Susanna’s voice sounds even more intimate and honest.

The selection of artists covered may well raise an eyebrow (or two): Prince, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, AC/DC (!!), Kiss (!!!!), Depeche Mode, Fairport Convention (the cover of Fotheringay is especially moving) , and the inevitable Joy Division (sampled here). If you like Nouvelle Vague but think they were a bit too light-hearted, be sure to try out Melody Mountain!

Dreamlines

Ambientblog

Recently the Impakt festival in my hometown presented a ‘street’ version of the Dreamlines Project, originally created by Argentinian artist Leonardo Solaas for the internet. We’ve seen this kind of image-gathering trick done before (using Google or Flickr image collections), but never with results as beautiful as this! 

As the information states: “Dreamlines is a non-linear, interactive visual experience. The user enters one or more words that define the subject of a dream he would like to dream. The system looks in the Web for images related to those words, and takes them as input to generate an ambiguous painting, in perpetual change, where elements fuse into one another, in a process analogous to memory and free association.“

Yes – this is generative ambient art! It’s your visual companion to your ambient soundtrack.
So…start up the sound (by clicking the ‘play all available tracks’ above right), open up a new browser screen through the link below, enter some random keywords and enjoy…. 

Some examples? Just click here for the ambient association. Funny thing: entering four-letter words has equally aesthetic results (but with harsher colours). And just entering black is equally enchanting..

Thanks, Leonardo, for this beautiful vision.

Sacred Dub Podcasts

Ambientblog

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

Ambientblog

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

Ambientblog

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.

Burial – Burial

Ambientblog

Burial

We already enjoyed Pole, of course, and Deadbeat, and don’t forget Rhythm & Sound. And now from London comes Burial with this self-titled CD.
The genre is called ‘DubStep’ – and there are quite a lot of new electronic DJ’s exploring it. Lot of times it sounds flat, one-dimensional, analogue and not very inspiring. But every genre has it’s geniuses.
Burial is a very good example of how adventurous this new music can be. Neither Dance(-able) nor Reggae, neither ambient nor classic dub. Yet all of these at the same time, and very heavily electronic. A bit like Adrian Sherwood mixes from another dimension…??On the ‘Hyperdub’ label, which describes it as “Burial’s parallel dimension sounds set in a near future South London underwater. You can never tell if the crackle is the burning static off pirate radio transmissions, or the tropical downpour of the submerged city outside the window. In their sometimes suffocating melancholy, most of these tracks seem to yearn for drowned lovers.”

‘The tropical downpour of the submerged city’ …(well it wás quite hot in London, that’s true)….’yearn for drowned lovers’…Just top thát for a description!

Bill Fontana – Harmonic Bridge

Ambientblog

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

Ambientblog

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

Ambientblog

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

Ambientblog

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.