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Olivier Alary * Selffish

Sellfish

Olivier Alary

OLIVIER ALARY – FICTION – NON-FICTION Also on Spotify

Fiction – Non-Fiction may be Olivier Alary‘s debut album under his own name for the Fat Cat / 130701 label, but that does not mean it’s his first work. The French (now Montreal-based) composer has previously released music as Ensemble (on Aphex Twin‘s Rephlex label, among others). Those releases grabbed the attention of Björk, for whom he later worked as a remixer and co-composer.

Fiction – Non-Fiction is a compilation of previously unreleased work for film soundtracks he composed in the last five years: music for China Heavyweight‘, ‘Up the Yangtze‘, ‘Jo pour Jonathan‘ and Corbo‘. In addition to this soundtrack material, there are two variations of the minimalist Pulses: one for percussion and one for wind instruments.

Coming from soundtracks mainly, it’s no surprise that the music is highly cinematic – especially since Alary can work with large ensembles, film orchestras, a string quartet, saxophonist (Erik Hove), pianist and arranger Johannes Malfattiand many, many other musicians.

The result is a lush, organic sound – and a remarkable variation of styles: piano solo pieces (Arrivée, Qin), modern classical compositions (Juanicas, Canon, Flooding), polyrhythmic minimal music (Pulses), pieces on par with the best of Johann Johansson and Max Richter. Ánd even some real ambient drone pieces like Khaltoum – and (my personal favourite track): Epilogue, closing the album with a floating choir slowly fading into silence.

The desolate album cover image may suggest otherwise, but the music on this album represents many different moods and styles. Definitely one for the list of favourites!

As a bonus, here’s an exclusive track for you to enjoy (nót included on the album).
Piscine is a short track in line with the other ambient pieces on the album:


OLIVIER ALARAY – PISCINE (NOT ON ALBUM!)
 

(Note: The Bandcamp link below is for the digital version only. For physical editions click here)


Sellfish

SELFFISH – HE SHE THEM US

There are only a few releases on the Serein label every year, but íf they decide to release a new album it’s a safe bet it ‘s worth investigating!

He She Them Us is their first title for 2017. It’s the debut release of the oddly named ‘Selffish‘  (Andrejs  Eigus from Riga, Latvia). His  debut for Serein, that is: Selffish previously released two full length albums on the Thinner netlabel in 2002 and 2004, which can still be downloaded from Archive.org.

The inspirations for He She Them Us  came from the countryside around the city of Riga, where Andrejs often went to find solace in its stillness and beauty, and where he recorded the field recordings that he later used to recreate these moments of reflection.
“Each time I went to visit a secluded corner of nature outside my hometown, I usually felt a strong desire to produce music. Especially when hearing the sounds again at home.”

Like many other releases on Serein,  He She Them Us is a hard to categorize because it merges many different things. There is plenty of ambience, field recordings and electronics (the label info recalls music from labels like Mille Plateaux, Raster Noton and City Centre Offices). On top of that there’s the carefully balanced live instrumentation (grand and electric piano, double bass, bowed strings, saxophone and guitar) adding a jazzy, warm, and loungey touch. and played with a perfect sense of detail.

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Dronezzzzzzzzzz

AS606

Lineeleh

ELEH & RICHARD CHARTIER – LINELEH I Also on Spotify, LINEELEH II Also on Spotify

Starting this drone edition with the two versions of Lineleh means we’re immediately diving deep into the most minimalist of drones. Richard Chartier and Eleh (personal information remains enigmatic, despite his/her impressive output… which was an inspiration for brainwashed as well as Noise Parkworked together in 2015 and 2016 to refine this drone celebrating their fascination for micro-nuances.

The micro-nuances best reveal themself with headphone listening, although quiet amplification is also recommended. This is deep listening material, not many people will listen to these long-form drone pieces with continued concentration. But that is not the issue: on ‘quiet amplification’ it is as ignorable as it is interesting – and isn’t that the original definition of ambient music? The kind of sounds that merge with the sounds of your own environment, altering the atmosphere to match with your own state of mind.

Lineleh is released in two separate versions: a 73 minute version and a 128 minute version. Though the first version would have fitted on a CD, both editions are digital-download only.

II is not simply a stretched version of Ithere’s a distinct difference in the two pieces – although they may use the same basic sound material.
is a drone piece in the truest, most minimal possible way, reminiscent of some of the work of Eliane Radigue.
II
 explores the micro-nuances, isolating some of its parts and zooming into it with microscopic detail.
In the first 30 minutes of II, there’s a faint yet distinctive whoop sound, something like the start of a loop sample, introducing a ‘rhythm’ to hold on to. A strange artefact, unusual to this kind of drone sounds, which does not seem to be present in the version. But when it finally disappears, the dive feels even deeper than before.

These two versions should definitely be regarded as pieces on one single album, even though they are available separately. It’s not either/or, but it’s a three-hour-and-twenty-one minute trip through “distinct floating durational interactions through slowly shifting waves.



Yann Novak Surroundings

YANN NOVAK – SURROUNDINGS

Also released on the Line Imprint label is this 29 minute dronescape by Yann Novakoriginally created as a sound performance for the Soundwave Biennal in San Francisco. Is is a symbiotic mixture of field recordings captured in the Golden Gate Park and synthesized sounds representing the architecture of the de Young Museum.

As expected, you can leave it up to Yann Novak to come up with a beautiful, “deep and meditative listening environment” that has the same effect as a revitalizing power nap: a 30 minute dive into eternity.


Radboud Mens En Matthijs Kouw

RADBOUD MENS & MATTHIJS KOUW – 1

The basic motto for this album is a quote from John Cage: “If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all.”
This is especially true when listening to what we call drone music.
If you listen to drones at the wrong moment, for the wrong reasons, without the right mindset or intention, you might dismiss it as boring. And it may very well be boring – but it is intentionally so.
If you surrender yourself to the sound, immerse yourself it, can be receptive to its many details, it opens up a world of timeless wonders. Miraculous waves of sound interacting with your body, your location, your hearing, your perception.

Radboud Mens and Matthijs Kouw have previously worked together, exploring all kinds of experimental electronic music. Their collaboration for this album is the first of a two-part album, recorded live in the studio in December 2014. This edition presents two minimalistic electro-acoustic drones, created using software, recordings of acoustic instruments and a modular synth.
The tracks, each around 20 minutes, are effectively called “F” and “A”. The start of each piece is like adjusting to a tuning fork. Once you’re tuned to the basic sound you can simply wait for the variations to start happening.

The funny thing is: it never gets boring, not even after 2 x 20 minutes.
So, if you want to test Cage’s statement, you’ll have to put it on repeat!


David Fyans - Trübhand

DAVID FYANS – TRÜBHAND

David Fyans previously recorded as Erstlaub, but currently releases his work under his own name. The (German) title roughly translates to something like ‘cloudy hand’ –  a reminder of a period David (of Scottish origin) and his wife were living in Bad Zwischenahn, north Germany.
‘In exile at the time, as a result of untenable UK visa policy’.

“The absolute flatness of the area was further adding to my homesickness and feeling of isolation.”

The two tracks, called (Left Hand) and (Right Hand), were recorded as two separate live performances, using a relatively simple setup: a small case of eutorack modules, a mixer and a couple of guitar pedals. They re-create a foggy state of mind, “feelings of occluded emotion, dullness and slowness of mind…”

“At night, in the alien darkness, I would close my eyes and rend the landscape. I would summon great mountains, pulling up grassy slopes that gave way to jagged cliffs, dragging down the clouds to create negative space.”


Martijn Comes - Interrogation of the Crystalline Sublime

MARTIJN COMES – INTERROGATION OF THE CRYSTALLINE SUBLIME

Martijn Comes is a Dutch composer specialising in new media, sound design and electro-acoustic composition. His hour-long deep-drone piece Interrogation of the Crystalline Sublime was published on the spectacular Drone Cinema 2015 Raspberry Pi (!) release – the kind of gem every dronehead will probably dream of, but with a price tag only few can afford.

So it’s a good thing that the Moving Furniture label decided to reissue this piece in a 2-CD version (ánd digital download of course): CD1 containing the hour-long Interrogation by Martijn Comes, and CD2 containing 8 remixes of that piece by Scant Intone, Mitchell Akiyama, Zeno van den Broek, Alberto Boccardi, Haarvöl, Juan Antonio Nieto, Giulio Aldinucci and Orphax. 

Comes describes his work as ‘livingroom music’ (possibly distinguishing itself slightly from Erik Satie’s ‘Musique d’Ameublement’ (Furniture Music), which was meant to be played by live performers).
He set out to “write a piece that is equally meditative as it is harmonious and melodic, or at least it would hint at large subtle progressions of harmony, in a way that is magnetic to the imaginations, while the body remains in a  meditative, relaxing state.”
It’s an immersive drone, with hints of a shore in the background, that gradually grows intense and inescapable in its first half and then gradually recedes again.

It is not often that drone material like this gets remix treatments by different artists, so it’s interesting to hear what other artists do with sonic material like this.
Some of the remixers focus on the drone aspect, emphasizing different frequencies thus altering the overall feel. Others filter out artefacts (which can hardly be heard in the original), or add their own material to create abstract electro-acoustic compositions that hardly seem related to the original. Some focus on emotional aspects, others take a more analytic approach. Most of them venture into sonic extremes, thus losing some of the ‘livingroom’ aspect of the original.
But each one of these remixes sound completely different – like if they were original compositions in the first place.


Orphax Dream Sequence #3

ORPHAX – DREAM SEQUENCE #3

With the exception of Lineleh, all releases mentioned above are released on the Moving Furniture Records label, curated by Sietse van Erve alias OrphaxSo it’s only natural to include his own release here (which is not released on his own label but on Taâlem by the way).

Van Erve is a dedicated admirer of the music of Eliane Radigue and this shows in most of his music (as well as in a lot of the releases on his label).
Dream Sequence #3 is the third part (duh!) of a series of dreamy ambient drone pieces. Part 1 and Part 2 are available through Orphax‘s Bandcamp Shop.

Because of the limitations of the 3″ CD it is released on, it is relatively short (at least for a drone) with its 23 minutes. It’s the kind of drone that can isolate you from your surroundings (instead of enhancing it), which definitely helps to drift away into a short but refreshing dream.

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DreamScenes 2017-4

DreamScenes Logo

The April DreamScenes edition features a collection of fine tracks from recent releases – meandering from ambient dreamscapes to abstract expressionism to jazzy modern classical, overtone throat singing suites and distorted choirs…
All in one night’s dream….

Tracklist:

  • 00:00 DreamScenes – Intro (Susanna)
  • 00:48 MayForest – -)(-
    Mayforest, 2017
  • 04:43 Olivier Alary – Epilogue
    Fiction – Non-Fiction, 2017
  • 10:57 Christopher Chaplin – Je Suis Le Ténébreux (Tim Story Remix)
    Deconstructed (Remix EP), 2017
  • 14:50 High Plains – Ten Sleep
    Cinderland, 2017
  • 17:55 Jacaszek – Love
    Kwiaty, 2017
  • 20:11 Tobias Hellkvist – Where No One Can Hear You
    Forest Psalms, 2017
  • 24:28 Olan Mill – Molanret
    Orient, 2017
  • 31:54 Second Woman – 05 ////\
    SW, 2017
  • 35:50 Simon Fisher Turner – Save As
    Giraffe, 2017
  • 36:40 Hauschka – I Can’t Express My Deep Love
    What If, 2017
  • 39:50 Enabl.Ed – To My Daughter
    Tipsy Haux 2.0, 2017
  • 44:17 Lorenzo Masotto – A Tree In The Snow
    Aeolian Processes, 2017
  • 47:30 High Plains – Blood That Ran The Rapids
    Cinderland, 2017
  • 50:46 Phonothek & Cities Last Broadcast – Last Melody
    Red Moon, 2017
  • 55:41 Olan Mill – Alve
    Orient, 2017
  • 58:00 Ocoeur – Crystal
    Touched 3, 2016

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Banabila Exclusive: Dissolve (Free Download)

Installation View

MICHEL BANABILA – DISSOLVE
(AMBIENTBLOG EXCLUSIVE!)

Ambientblog is very proud to present this exclusive download from Michel Banabila: a 38 minute soundscape created for Gerco de Ruijter‘s installation called Dissolve

Dissolve  is an installation by landscape photographer and filmmaker Gerco de Ruijtershowing landscape images filmed in the Alamosa Valley, Colorado, near the Great Sand Dunes. The shore of the mountain lake is shown in time-lapse images of one full day, from early morning darkness to nightfall, comprised into 4 minutes.
Using animation technique, the reverse image is added, so the mirrored landscape changes position with the real at about three-quarters of the movie. From there, the next sequence starts in mirrored mode until it is swapped into its original mode. This way, the images are shown in endless succession.
The landscape and its mirrored image are tilted 90 degrees, so ‘form and landscape are interwoven in a poetic, abstract experience‘.

Dissolve was premiered on the Holland Animation Film Festival (HAFF) in March 2017, as part of the Expanding Animation exhibition, presenting installations that combine animation, film and fine arts.

Dissolve   Dissolve   Dissolve   Dissolve
(click images for full size)
 

Because the tilted landscape image is detached from its natural context the eight minute installation can induce a meditative state which is deepened by the soundscape Michel Banabila created especially for this installation. The length of the film (8 minutes) is different from that of the soundscape (38 minutes), so the soundtrack is slightly different with every iteration of the loop.

Banabila‘s Dissolve soundscape reminisces some of Brian Eno’s generative works: repeating notes that appear at irregular intervals, embedded in multi-layered drones and deep rumbling sub-bass sounds. Indeed: ‘music that is as ignorable as it is interesting.’ It’s a soundscape one can lose itself in, an atmosphere enhancer that can be put on repeat – and thus it’s a perfect companion to De Ruijter’s detached landscape stills.
One could argue that this is not a ‘characteristic’ Banabila piece: he never before, to my knowledge, released a full-album-length ambient piece like this. (Until now, his X-Rated Manggha Mix was the longest ambient track with its 18:24 minutes).

It seems Banabila feels at home in whatever style he choses: in his works for films, dance and theatre, his more ethnic oriented collaborations, his present day focus on more experimental electronics, ánd in long-form ambient soundscapes.

The Dissolve installation is not the first time that Gerco de Ruijter and Michel Banabila worked together: many of Banabila‘s album covers are graced with stills from de Ruijter‘s aerial landscape photography. Floatand the recent Sound Years  are fine examples.
They also produced various other film and installation pieces together, like Crops, Grid Corrections and Ringdijk/Dike-Ring.
(An overview can be found here on this Banabila Blogpost)

Dissolve   Installation View
 



MICHEL BANABILA – DISSOLVE

This download contains Banabila‘s 38:30 version of Sound for Dissolve, and includes stills from the original video installation by Gerco de Ruijter. 

Please note that this download is intended for personal use only.
For non-personal and/or commercial use such as radio-broadcasts, soundtracks or any other kind of publication, please contact Michel Banabila (music) or Gerco de Ruijter (video stills) first.

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Giulio Aldinucci * OSA7029 * Zeger de Vos

Aldinucci - Goccia

Aldinucci - Goccia

GIULIO ALDINUCCI – GOCCIA

Giulio Aldinucci is an Italian experimental electroacoustic composer actively exploring all kinds of soundscapes and field recordings. His earliest releases were released as Obsil, but since 2012 his releases are presented under his own name.

Goccia (the word means ‘drop’) is his latest album for the Home Normal label “balances organic layers with some fantastic melodic synth hooks, flying straight through a maze of frequencies from drones, bleeps, bloops, background music, jingles, jangles, gut-punching subs, and whatever else he can.”

It’s a fantastic and kaleidoscopic sound palette that defies any strict genre definition; it combines ambient soundscapes, field recordings, experimental electronics and sound effect samples into one. At times the album atmosphere can be quite gloomy, especially in the first half, but gradually the music becomes more ‘serene’ – welcoming the ‘drops’ of the Tuscany spring in the closing track Candles. 

Also on Spotify


A Sense Of Belonging

OSA7029 – A SENSE OF BELONGING

OSA7029 – it’s a strange name for a group of artists from Finland. The track titles OSA1 – OSA7 don’t give away much information either. It is unknown who are in this ‘band’, only the name of two supporting artists are disclosed: Canadian mezzo-soprano Debi Wong (on Osa2) and Finnish throat singer Sauli Heikkilä (Osa3).
The title for their debut album, however, tells more about what music to expect.

OSA7029 combines acoustic and electronic sounds, and doing so they manage to create a sense of belonging indeed. 
I’m just not sure of belonging to whát, exactly – but judging the warmth of this music, that question is hardly of any importance.

Also on Spotify


Zeger De Vos

ZEGER DE VOS – EXPIRED SCENERIES

Zeger de Vos is a young (and hitherto unknown) Dutch artist who holds a Master’s degree in composition from the University of Huddersfield… Which is the same university where Monty Adkins is Professor of Electronic Music (he was one of Zeger’s examiners).

His (digital only) debut album is released on the Spanish label Seattle Dott Records, and presents four tracks (totalling 32 minutes) of soundscapes created from sound sources like ‘gurgling gas vents in Landmannalaugar (Iceland), the engine of a ferry in New York, The Tanzanian shore or a fence in the Peak District (UK)”.

This may suggest this is an album full of field recordings, but that’s not what it is. The sources are heavily manipulated into full-fledged electro-acoustic soundscapes “inspired by decaying memories and Edgelands.” 

“Atmospheres of melancholy and introspection”, created from “recordings of spaces, objects and instruments with analog- and algorithmic synthesis to create virtual spaces with meditative qualities”. 

A fascinating debut album! I’m sure that there will be a lot more great music from Zeger de Vos in the future!

Also on Spotify

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Kid Koala + Emiliana Torrini * Mario Batkovic

Mario Batkovic

Music to Draw to

KID KOALA Feat. EMILIANA TORRINI – MUSIC TO DRAW TO: SATELLITE

No matter what specific genre you’re into, there’s always that moment that ‘sameness’ begins to bother you a bit. Too many people copying the familiar sounds, too few people pushing the boundaries. That is the moment that you’ll welcome a fresh wind, an album displaying an original point of view,  an unexpected surprise. Music to Draw To is such a surprise (at least for me).

The album title in itself refers to many classic ambient albums. It’s a reference to the live events where Kid Koala (Eric San, from Montreal) played his music while he invited the audience to draw. You can take this literally, too: the Deluxe CD version comes with a hardcover sketchbook.
But who would expect the scratch DJ/turntablist, known for his Ninja Tune albums and his live-sets with Radiohead, Beastie Boys, Arcade Fire, DJ Shadow and many more, would completely leave out the samples in favor of synthesizers, keyboards and guitar to create an album full of (18) atmospheric ambient pieces?

Music to Draw To is also the start of a new series featuring different vocalists, with Kid Koala writing and producing and performing.
The guest vocalist on this particular album is Emiliana Torriniwhose whispering dreamy voice and endearing Icelandic accent adds an irresistible romantic flavor to the seven songs on this album that feature her. Songs that “tell a tale of discovery and loss through the lens of lovers separated by an early space mission to Mars”.

It’s ‘ambient-pop’, more than ‘ambient’ by its strict definition.
But who really cares if it’s also music to make you dream? … Ánd draw?


Mario Batkovic

MARIO BATKOVIC – MARIO BATKOVIC (SOLO)

I saw many concerts at last year’s Le Guess Who festival in Utrecht, but the performance of Mario Batkovic was one of the most impressive I attended.
A Bosnian/Swiss guy, performing his solo work on his Zerosette Accordion to an audience that probably hardly knew what to expect apart from what they read in the festival program notes.

In Batkovic’ hands, the accordion sounds as powerful as a full orchestra. You have to look twice to check that he is only using his two hands… and then again to check that there really are no additional effects or electronics.
He filled the church completely with his majestic sound, and received  a well deserved ovation from a stunned audience.
This picture perfectly captures the experience (photo by Tim van Veen):

Batkovic LGW 16 photo by Tim van Veen

 

To give an impression of his mastership, here’s a video from an intimate session on the Eurosonic/Noorderslag festival in January 2017 (with thanks & credits to 3voor12):

 

Batkovic’s album was first released in 2015 on the Veruston label as “Solo”. It has been almost impossible to find until now, unless you were lucky enough to attend one of Batkovic’ performances.

Fortunately it is now (re-)released on Invada Records – including two additional tracks: Semper and Eloquens.

Most of the compositions on this album are built upon repetitive themes, in a way that reminisces the minimalist work of Philip Glass – but with the accordion as the full ensemble packed into one single instrument.
If you (like many) unfairly think the accordeon is an uncool instrument, not suitable for performing exciting music, this album proves you’re wrong.
And if you experience Batkovic performing live, without the help of any additional effect, you will realise you were VERY wrong.

Note: the Bandcamp link only offers the digital download version. Check the Invada site to obtain vinyl/CD version.


Also on Spotify

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Seabuckthorn * Jeff Pearce * Art Patience

Seabuckthorn - Turns

Seabuckthorn     Seabuckthorn - Turns

SEABUCKTHORN – I COULD SEE THE SMOKE / TURNS

The limited edition cassette I Could See The Smoke (now sold out, I assume, but still available as a download) is as impressive as it is short. In its 23 minutes (for 6 tracks) length, Andy ‘Seabuckthorn’ Cartwright paints a scenical view that is expressive and quietly ambient at the same time.
His acoustic guitar techniques of finger picking and bowing,  ‘combined with various open tunings to form a well curated mixture of approaches’ perfectly matches the vision of the new Dead West series of the Lost Tribe Sound label: ‘focusing on music built for exploring and soundtracking your environment, whether you’re deep in the middle of lush woodlands, or just laying back at home with rested eyelids’.

“Cartwright wields his weapons wisely, choosing a minimal, yet powerful arsenal made up of various twelve string guitars, a well-worn resonator guitar, and deep accents of percussion.”

In line with the Western Skies Motel ‘Settlers‘ release earlier this year, the album invokes a feeling of almost lost folk tradition. But despite its ‘folky’ sound, the music defines its own tradition. Tagging it is a difficult task – Americana, British Folk, modern classical, drone: it’s all there and it’s none of that, too. (And usually this is a sign of something special.)

The ideas from the tracks originated whilst on tour throughout Europe, and were recorded and mixed in no more than two weeks after returning to Bristol.
“I opted for a threatening, even apocalyptic EP title. I thing most of the songs can offer up a tranquillity to counteract the gravity of these uncertain times, a calm inside the eye of a storm.”

Also on Spotify
Turns is the full album immediately following up the I Could See The Smoke EP. It further explores the direction named ‘American Primitive, modern classical’ solo guitar music, performed on various twelve string guitars, a resonator guitar and various percussion.
“Fellow friend of rustic orchestration” William Ryan Fritch plays double bass on three of the tracks.

The 10-track 40 minute album is “seamlessly transitioning between hypnotic long-form pieces, minimal harp-like ballads and the primal stomping world-builders that have become Seabuckthorn’s calling card.”


Jeff Pearce Follow The River Home

JEFF PEARCE – FOLLOW THE RIVER HOME

I’m usually very wary of music that is primarily tagged ‘new age’. It’s hard to explain why exactly – but who feels it, knows it. But a tag is just a tag, and music should be listened to without prejudices, shouldn’t it?

Jeff Pearce has operated in the ambient/new age community ever since 1993. The guitar is his primary instrument, floating in ambient textures of processed guitar sounds.

Follow The River Home has that warm and pleasant atmosphere of returning to a place you have longed to be. A place that feels like home, even if you haven’t been there before.
Most of the tracks are around four minutes in length, presenting Pearce’s soft and warm guitar themes.
Gathering Stars is an exception to the rule: there are no recognisable guitars in this ambient textured piece that gently floats around for over 20 minutes.

Also on Spotify

 


Art Patience

ART PATIENCE – THE RECOGNITION

The “File Under: New Age, Healing” will probably scare away many ‘serious music’ listeners. But hardcore experimentalists are clearly not the main target audience of Heart Dance Recordsa ‘new age’ label by definition.  The Recognition operates in the same vein as Jeff Pearce’s album, aiming to ‘to create music that would help people from all walks of life, lifting up the listener, while inspiring a sense of contemplation and relaxation’. No more, but certainly not less!

The harmonica rarely occurs in ambient music, but the instrument lends itself very well to a combination with the gentle electronic ambient music that is – on this particular album – created by John Herrera. 

Art Patience (that’s his name, by the way, not an alias) has a life-long experience playing the harmonica, an instrument firmly rooted in Blues music. He pushed the (R&B) limits by playing with pianist Scott Cossu,  with whom he toured for nearly 20 years.
And now, he ‘incorporates his skill and knowledge of that genre to blend it with New Age nuances and textures to create a one of a kind album which reflects travelling across the country through the Badlands, the Deep South, gentle forests with the sounds of nature, and more.’



Art Patience – Winds Of Change
 

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Elegi * Alphaxone & Protou * Lustmord

Bansull

Bansull

ELEGI – BåNSULL

Ten years after his chilling debut Sistereis (and eight years since Varde), Elegi is awakened from his slumber by the curators of the Dronarivm label in their search for “unsung melodies from our century”.

Tommy ‘Elegi’ Jansen (from Norway) claims Bånsull is an old and rare Norwegian word for lullaby.
But you’d better not fall asleep to this music: it’ll probably be the soundtrack to your most frightening nightmares.

 
 

“Folk tales from around the world that have scared small children for centuries. When I became a father some years ago it was only natural for me to write my own bedtime stories to lull my baby to sleep. For some strange reason these gave her nightmares and she did not sleep for years.”

Let this be a warning to you: you cannot un-listen this!

Also on Spotify


Alphaxone & Protou - Stardust

ALPHAXONE & PROTOU – STARDUST

When released on Cryo Chamber, you can bet it’s dark. And cold, like the label name suggests (though the label is now based in Oregon, USA, its roots are from Sweden).
Not ‘dark ambient’ in the inverted new age sense, with chanting monks, church bells and such nonsense, but dark in a fascinating way. Let’s call it IDM –  Intelligent Dark Music.

Alphaxone (Mehdi Saleh, from Iran) and ProtoU (Sasha Cats, from Kiev, Ukraine) work together on this spacey album that helps you ‘float weightless into the void to the sound of exploding supernovas.’
The ‘exploding supernova’ bit suggests a collection of loud explosions, but actually this album has the trance-inducing calmness and timelessness of endless space travel.
Recommended for lovers of space ambient and old school science fiction soundtracks.’

Also on Spotify


Lustmord - Dark Matter

LUSTMORD – DARK MATTER

A bit late to the party, perhaps: this album was released september 2016. But while on the subject of dark and space, we simply cannot ignore this gem. After all, Brian ‘Lustmord‘ Williams is widely credited as the originator of the Dark Ambient genre!

The vast expanse of the Universe, ‘far larger than we are able to comprehend’, was the inspiration for this album.
Three long-form tracks (Subspace, Astronomicom and Black Static) created from sounds derived from an audio library of cosmological activity, gathered from sources like NASA, The Very Large Array, National Radio Astronomy Observatory and more.

“Behind the world that we experience lies a veil of darkness and much is hidden between, beyond and unseen.”

Created from the sounds coming from space – the sound that ‘exists as naturally occurring electromagnetic vibrations’, coming from sources like ‘interstellar plasma and molecules, radio galaxies, pulsars masers and quasars’ – the ambience of this album is dark but not scary.
After all:  ‘The universe began of darkness, not light.’

Dark Matter is enigmatic yet comforting. And a spacey dark ambient classic.

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Lawrence English * Monolog & Subheim * Pinkcourtesyphone

Monologue & Subheim - Conviction

Cruel Optimism

LAWRENCE ENGLISH – CRUEL OPTIMISM

Can ambient music be politically or socially engaged? Raising the question is answering it: yes, of course.
But if you’re in doubt consult Lawrence English – and his latest album release in particular.
Cruel Optimism could hardly have been released at another time-frame than the current, I think.
And although English tries all he can to focus on the ‘optimism’, things are not looking too good. ‘Cruel’ has taken over – almost.

Cruel Optimism is a confronting, hard-hitting album, and not exactly easy listening. But, contrary to some others in the ‘power-ambient’ scene who enjoy turning up all amps up to eleven and leave it there or even try to stretch it up to twelve, Lawrence English never forgets that a real story needs dynamics.
Tension and release.
Suspense can be a lot more frightening than horror.

Cruel Optimism “meditates on how power consumes, augments and ultimately shapes two subsequent human conditions: obsession and fragility.[…] A meditation on the challenges [of current times] and an encouragement to press forward towards more profound futures. This record is one of protest against the immediate threat of abhorrent possible futures.”

Unlike many of his previous projects, this album is a result of interchanging ideas and perspectives of many other artists. Among the many collaborators on this album are Norman Westberg (guitar), Tony Buck (drums), Brodie McAllister (trombone), Heinz Riegler (guitar), Chris Abrahams (piano), Mats Gustafsson (saxophone), a choir of Australian Voices, and many others. But you’ll probably have a hard time to distinguish their particular contributions, because they all have been subjected to English’ musical vision.
A vision that tells us that the future may look grim and dark, but it’s our own inescapable responsibility to make the best of it.

Also on Spotify


Monologue & Subheim - Conviction

MONOLOG & SUBHEIM – CONVICTION

That last sentence above is also a seamless introduction to Conviction, a collaborative work from Monolog (Mads Lindgren) and Subheim (Kostas Katsikas).

Conviction is dark and heavy yet full of light and hope, expressing the closing of important chapters and the beginning of new ones”

Monolog and Subheim are both Berlin residents. The atmosphere of the city has been a source of inspiration: “Berlin’s night sky, the urban scenery, faces and places, action and reaction, the calm before the storm as well as the storm itself.”

The ‘ambience’ of this relatively short album (5 tracks, 24 minutes) is provided by Subheim mainly, Monolog‘s drum rhythms and slow basslines make sure that we don’t lose connection with earth and the Berlin cityscapes. The thundering rhythms from the first tracks slowly dissolve until, in the closing track Colorful Flight we finally drift away into more etheric dimensions.

Also on Spotify

MONOLOG + SUBHEIM – MAKE STONES CRY


Taking into account ....

PINKCOURTESYPHONE – TAKING INTO ACCOUNT ONLY A PORTION OF YOUR EMOTIONS

The music of Richard Chartier in his Pinkcourtesyphone disguise is usually rather dark, but never without humor. But that does not mean the music is to be taken lightly… humor can be a serious matter!

The music bears reference to music from The Caretaker, Angelo Badalementi, William Basinski and stuff like that. But this namedropping like this is a bit offensive, since it could also be the other way round: Richard Chartier himself is a reference artist… top shelf when it comes to experimental electronic music. 

Like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Richard Chartier and Pinkcourtesyphone show different aspects of the same personality.
Pinkcourtesyphone is a more emotional, dare one say musical side of his work. Dark but not arch, with a slight hint of humor. Amorphous, changing, and slipping in and out of consciousness.”
There have been many collaborations with diverse artists like Cosey Fanni Tutti, Kid Congo Powers, William Basinski and dutch harpist Gwyneth Wentink. 

Taking Into Account… is a solo project, a set of “new coded messages of sumptuous distant drones and glacial orchestral heartrendings” are “poised and polished slow motion pulsations tug at your emotions (but only a portion of them)”.
One that comes with slightly ominous instructions: “Please don’t hang up. This call is important. You’re coming with Pinkcourtesyphone… leave everything… it’s getting late.”
Unnecessary instructions, by the way, because once you start listening it’s impossible to hang up.

(Trivia detail: dedicated readers/listeners may recognise the samples in Reference Point Intermission 1 and 2: the original Reference Point was generously submitted as one of the track for last year’s Ambientblog Anniversary Collection)

Also on Spotify

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Kleefstra/Bakker/Kleefstra (x3) * Tsjinlûd

Dize

2016 has been a relatively quiet year for the Kleefstra Brothers Jan and Romke, the nucleus of many different projects involving ambient improv music and Frisian poetry. Until the end of the year, at least, when several releases appeared within one month. Followed shortly after that with their latest CD: Dize.
The four  releases were not meant to be released so close to each other but due to unforseen release schedule changes they did.
So – you can now start binging…

Dage    Desimber   Dize

KLEEFSTRA / BAKKER / KLEEFSTRA – DAGE / DESIMBER / DIZE

Two of the new releases are cassette (and digital download) releases with Anne Chris Bakkerknown from previous collaborations but also for his great solo albums Tussenlicht and Reminiscences. 

Dage, released on the Low-Point label, is the trio’s sixth collaborative release. It presents four tracks, including Widzjende Treast which some of you may recognise from last year’s Ambientblog Anniversary collection (it was this track that gave the anniversary mix its title).

Theirs is a familiar recipe by now: the track take their time to slowly build up from a quiet drone, accompanying Jan Kleefstra’s recitals in the Frisian language of the northern Dutch, a language only to be understood by the Frysians. Dreamlike, yet inevitably building up to a climax – an “ever-morphing musical backdrop, created by nothing more than the inventive use of bowed, looped and processed electric guitars”.

The two tracks on Desimber – another cassette release, this time released by Tombed Visions Records – have the same trance-inducing atmosphere. But with 36 and 26 minutes respectively, they take even more time to develop. The two tracks were recorded on a short tour in December 2015 (hence the name), and are a showcase of what a Kleefstra/Bakker/Kleefstra may sound like. ‘May’, because they are always spontaneous improvisations and thus will sound different every time.

The physical (cassette) edition is housed in a remarkable, though also impractical to store double-sized case. The Tombed Vision Records site only offers the cassette release (including the download of course), but if you’re not a cassette type person the Kleefstra Bros Bandcamp page also offers a download-only version.

The third title of this  Kleefstra/Bakker/Kleefstra trilogy is Dize (which translates to ‘Mist’), released as a CD by Midira Records.
Its content is simply summarized with the description “Frysian spoken words coated by a massive floating soundwall, made by two guitars.”

You probably don’t need more description than that, especially if you’re already familiar with their work or have listened to the two releases previously described.
There ís a small difference, however: the atmosphere is slightly darker than usual. Especially in the opening track De Holle As Asem and the album closer Moannegat – with its loud feedback climax.
They give this album a slightly more abrasive feel than usual. But apart from these moments, the album is as atmospheric (and misty) as ever.

Dize presents four tracks: two of them around the 8 minute mark, the other two even more unhurried with 12 and 14 minutes respectively.
This time, Jan Kleefstra‘s poems are printed on the CD-cover including the english translations.


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Tsjinlûd

TSJINLÛD

Though the project unmistakably bears the characteristics of a Kleefstra-involved project, the history of the Tsjinlûd release is somewhat different, and has taken a long time to come to life.
It’s a CD presented in a hardcover book (or a book including a CD), featuring works by a collective of Frisian artists. The book contains poems, pictures, paintings and photographs in addition to the music and spoken poetry on the CD. But it’s not ‘just’ a lyric book: the poetry included in the book only partly overlaps that on the CD.

The Tsjinlûd collective project started in 2006, and has evolved into an impro- and soundcollective, combining soundscapes with poetry, spoken word and film. One of its resulting projects is the ongoing Klanklânskippen (‘Sound Landscapes’).

This self-released book includes poetry by Jan Kleefstra, Elmar Kuiper, Grytsje Schaaf, Remco Kuiper, photo’s by Romke Kleefstra, Anne-Chris Bakker, and pictures by Elmar Kuiper and Christiaan Kuitwaard. They all also contribute to the tracks on the CD, which were recorded early 2015. Compared to the KBK releases mentioned above, these tracks are somewhat more experimental, a bit more rough and unpolished.

The project is an uncompromising celebration of the Frisian culture: there are neither translations of the poems nor of the liner notes.
Those that don’t understand it, can only guess about the meaning of the words – though for those speaking Dutch it may help a bit to read the lyrics out loud to understand some fragments.

I can’t help but wonder if it is satisfying for the poets who wrote this to know that most listeners will not understand what they are talking about… I assume they prefer their words to be understood.
But on the other hand: nót understanding their words somehow adds to the magic of this music: its message still comes across.

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