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James Murray – Falling Backwards

Falling Backwards

Falling Backwards


Some of you probably wondered why the recently published James & Anne‘ mix does not feature a track from James Murray‘s most recent release Falling Backwards. The answer is simple: because the mix was finished quite some time before this album was released. Otherwise it would have definitely contained a track from this album, because with this release Murray seems to surpass all his earlier releases in terms of musical soundscapes that are very personal and will resonate with many listeners on an emotional level.

James himself explains the album title (and the cover image) like this:
“When I was a child I would fall backwards, literally. If I felt life unfair or hadn’t control of my world, instead of losing my temper I’d go still, silent, bolt upright, close my eyes and just let go. [….] After a few of these episodes the people in my life learnt to see the signs and usually someone would be there to catch me in time.”
James forgot about these ‘self-destructive childhood descents’ but the memories came back after ‘recent scans investigating tinnitus discovered an infarct in the back of my brain’, possibly caused by historic trauma.
These memories of ‘the long free fall through darkness, the outright surrender of the will, and the delicious anticipation of impact’ were the inspiration for this Falling Backwards album, definitely his most personal to date.

It is an interesting question: what makes an album full of instrumental ambient soundscapes, ‘abstract’ as they are by nature, feel so very personal? But, on the other hand, not só personal that it refers to the artist’s unique situation only… but ‘personal’ for the listener too?

I don’t know, I can’t really explain. I can only assume that part of that comes from the accompanying explanation – with another text and a completely different context the listener’s mindset could be framed otherwise. But another (and important) part must be the intention of the artist is clearly felt: the honesty, opennes and vulnerability he’s not afraid to show. This can be felt and recognised – and probably is also one of many reasons why James Murray has become one of the more important artists/producers in this genre.

Falling Backwards is not released on his own label Slowcraft Records this time, but on Ian Hawgood’s Home NormalIt is the labels last release for this year, before it goes into a (hopefully short) hibernation. The choice could’ve hardly been better, because this one can go on repeat for a while.

(Interesting – though possibly unrelated – sidenote: Anne Garner‘s (James’ wife)  Wherever You Ggets a somewhat different connotation with the background of Falling Backwards. The track is from her 2015 Be Life albumand also the closing track of the James & Anne Mix

BTW: If you want to hear more from James Murray (besides his previous releases), I strongly recommend to check out his live set from October 2017 recorded at his performance for Fluister in Tivoli/Vredenburg Utrecht.

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James & Anne (Mix)

Anne & James - Eyes

The inspiration for this mix came after attending separate performances of James Murray and Anne Garner.
The music they perform is quite different: James exploring various kinds of abstract experimental electronic soundscapes, Anne performing her poetic emotional songs blending jazz, alternative pop, folk,  spectral lullabies and tender neo-classical arrangements.
As different as their output may be, it still fits together very well – which is no real surprise knowing that Anne & James are a couple living together, and James produces and contributes towards  Anne’s music.
I wanted to find out how it would work out when mixing some tracks from their past and recent albums together.
And I found out it works very well, as you can hear yourself in this mix. It also shows that, if the ingredients match, 0ne plus one can be much more than two!

James & Anne H_C cover

A collaboration of forces between three separate entities, Headphone Commute, Ambientblog, and Slowcraft Records, are proud to present a unique mix by a colleague and partner in crime, Peter van Cooten, of beautiful works from a beautiful couple, James Murray and Anne Garner, culminating a selection of compositions they released individually, as well as together under various project names. Peter then carefully compiled these pieces together into a gorgeous journey of ambiance and voice, and now, along with the appearance on the Podcast, we are honoured to offer this little gem to you as a digital download (lossless, of course) via the new entry of Headphone Commute Presents on our Bandcamp! Whew!
Headphone Commute



This mix is published as  part of the “Headphone Commute Presents…” series.
A High Quality WAV version of this mix can be downloaded from the HeadPhone Commute Bandcamp page


JAMES & ANNE (Peter van Cooten Mix)

Buy the lossless (WAV) version of James & Anne (Mix) now

Stream it from Mixcloud:


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Pjusk * Nadia Struiwigh * Sonae

Sonae - ISWB

Sakne Verda

PJUSK – SAKNE VERDA  Also on Spotify

I don’t know which language this is, Norvegian I suppose since Pjusk (Jostein Dahl Gjelsvik and Rune Sagevik) are from Norway, but according to the liner notes Sakne Verda translates as ‘to miss the world – taking a short nap’. So this short three-track mini album by may be a reminder that Pjusk are still alive and not to be forgotten (their latest full album was released in 2014).
Translating it with Google Translate tells us it can also mean “Missing Values”… and when translated from the Latvian  language it means something like ‘Roots Up’.
So make of it whatever you want – maybe it’s best to not to try to translate it at all.

The tracks are three different Pjusk collaborations: Attende with Tortusa, Kviskra (meaning ‘Whispered’?) with Anne Garner (vocals) and Porya Hatami, and Bontelabo with Yui Onodera.
The result is a stunning mix of what we might call ‘pop ambient’ – crossing the borders of ambient experimental music and more radio-friendly sounds. Ánd taking the best out of both worlds.

As a result, this simply leaves us longing for more. Let’s hope this is a short preview of what’s to come soon.



I would never have guessed it myself, but WHRRU stands for Where Are You. Neither would I have guessed that Nadia Struiwigh is from Rotterdam, Holland. But she is.
Presenting herself as a’creative creator’, she is an editor/reviewer at Interface (Dutch magazine for musicians and producers), web/graphic designer, social media expert, composer and DJ.

Her second full album (follow up of 2017’s Lenticular) is released by Denovali, and will probably help gain the recognition she deserves to get. The album is impressive enough in itself, but watching her perform on the recent Rewire festival confirmed that she is an artist that will get herself known soon.

Her music is not easy to pinpoint… Denovali states she is ‘sitting somewhere between Biosphere and Boards of Canada’, but that seems to ignore her powerful techno background (especially when performing live). The ‘post-IDM’ reference to Warp (“electronic listening music for quiet nights and club drowsy dawns”) feels more to the point.
But why the references? Struiwigh definitely defines her own style. It’s ambient, and yet it isn’t. It’s techno, and yet it isn’t. It’s experimental electronics, and yet it isn’t.
In fact, it’s easier to write about what genre this is nót, than describe what it is. And that is always a good sign: a sign of a creative artist entering new territories!


Sonae - ISWB


Is it a just coincidence, or is a new wave of female composers/musicians/DJ’s currently re-defining electronic music? Artists like Nadia Struiwigh (mentioned above), Dasha Rush (mentioned earlier), and many others seem to unite in a musical feminist community, dedicated to prove the fact that “electronic music is not a boys club”.
“We Are Here”,
the title of the closing on Sonae‘s new album (released on Gudrun Gut’s Monika Enterprise), leaves no room for doubt about that. Better get used to it.

I Started Wearing Black” is a strong personal statement (“… resulting from an individual situation (lovesickness), I started to wear black(gaining weight and feeling ugly).”) as wel as a political one (“It was finished long before the black dresses were worn at the Golden Globes as a sign of protest against sexual violence.”).
Mixing ‘nerdy’ electronic music with personal emotions and politics: please welcome the new wave of electronic feminism!

Sonae‘s music on this album can be quite ‘black’ at times: “Sonae is not a kind of neo-romantic veiling with a tendency for escapist nebula.”
But, like in real life, “between the wrong things there are happy moments.”

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DreamScenes 2015-07


The warm, soft voice of Anne Garner guides you into (and out of) a dreamy hour of sounds also including Nils Frahm, Bruno Sanfilippo, Leonardo Rosado, Michel Banabila, Söll, Yamaoka, Aes Dana, Miktek and Fabio Perletta.


  • 00:00 Intro (Susanna)
  • 00:45 Anne Garner – Wherever You Go
    Be Life, 2015
  • 04:12 Nils Frahm – The Parking Garage
    Victoria OST, 2015
  • 08:03 Bruno Sanfilippo – Upon Contact
    Upon Contact Reworked, 2015
  • 12:52 Bruno Sanfilippo – Upon Contact Reworked by Leonardo Rosado
    Upon Contact Reworked, 2015
  • 17:57 Michel Banabila – Field Trip
    Jump Cuts, 2015
  • 23:53 Söll – Märr
    Cävv, 2015
  • 30:50 Yamaoka – Telescope
    Silent Film, 2015 (release tba)
  • 36:57 Aes Dana ft. Miktek – Diffraction Protocol
    Alkaline, 2015
  • 43:30 Øe (Fabio Perletta) – Charm, Hanami
    Unseed, 2015
  • 52:43 Anne Garner – Leave Your Bed
    Be Life, 2015
  • 56:07 Nils Frahm – Pendulum
    Victoria OST, 2015
  • 58:24 Outro (Pink Floyd)

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Anne Garner – Be Life

Anne Garner - Fire #2

Anne Garner - Be Life

With her previous releases, Anne Garner has secured a very special place, right in the middle of the area where indie folk, singer-songwriter and ambient music overlap.

Since 2006 she has partnered with experimental music producer James Murray, who is also the label owner of Slowcraft Records.
Their collaboration resulted in the immensely beautiful set Trusting a Twirled World – released in a vocal as well as an instrumental edition.

Be Life – the successor of that 2011 album set, and again the result of the close collaboraton with James Murray – moves further along the same path … but somehow it feels as if Anne‘s otherworldy vocals are even more intense and intimate.

This is shamelessly romantic music, and also unmistakeably English in nature.
Anne’s soft voice (closely recorded as if whispering directly in your ear), the lyrics, and possibly most of all the arrangements are as reassuring as a new-found love.

“It’s folk when celebrating lives lived, the grass and the dew and the soil. It’s classical when steeped in an ancient hymnal timelessness. She draws on electronica an electroacoustic too, though these are songs in the truest sense; intimate arrangements leaving lasting personal impressions.”


James Murray‘s music is a perfect match for this setting. His arrangements fit the songs like a blanket, at times reminiscing some of the best of Brian Eno’s shorter song arrangements – which is especially clear in the instrumental tracks like Soft Eyes.

The songs feel personal, direct, and very touching – though that may be a personal thing of course.
It’s in the chord arrangements, the voice, the lyrics – all of these breathe a kind of naivety – but it’s  a naivety of a very mature kind!

I immediately fell in love with this album upon first listen. Repeated listening left me wondering how it could’ve possibly been that I had not heard of Anne Garner before!
But, with all her work being available still, it’s never too late to catch up, is it?

Also on Spotify

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