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Steve Roach & Robert Logan; Phonothek; Erik Wøllo & Byron Metcalf

Second Nature

Second Nature

STEVE ROACH & ROBERT LOGAN SECOND NATURE
Second Nature is part of a set of two distinctively different albums released simultaneously.
Biosonic, the twin album, focuses on ‘elegant futurism: a labyrinth of bio-electrical rhythmic pieces mixed with passages of deep drifting textural magnetism’, while Second Nature is filled with ‘romantic minimalism: nuanced, sparse, ambient-atmospherics and processed-piano tone paintings’.
In short, they both serve quite a different mood.

In a way, it’s a meeting of two generations and Anglo-American cultures: 28-year-old (England-based) Robert Logan has been a fan of 61-year-old (American) ambient performer Steve Roach ever since he was 13 years old.

From these two albums, Second Nature is my favourite because of it’s dreamlike tranquility; the way Roach‘s vintage analog synths, live looping, mixing and effects processing merge with Logan‘s (processed) electric grand piano playing.  The 70 minutes of music are divided in four tracks: two long (22/32 minutes), and two relatively short (8-10 minutes).


Lost in Fog

PHONOTHEK – LOST IN FOG
“Recommended as a companion for sleepless nights”…. I’m not sure about that, personally, since the overall sound of this album is rather dark and might not really help you to feel comfortable enough to fall asleep. But if you have no desire to fall asleep soon you might very well enjoy its companionship: it’s a fascinating cinematic sound indeed, created using, vinyl crackles, echoes, bowed strings and horns.

Phonothek is a (‘male/female’) duo from Georgia, Europe (further details unknown); their sound is recognisable European in its resemblances to names like Bohren & der Club of Gore, Kilimanjaro Dark Jazz Ensemble and their music revealing influences from the experimental artists recording for the Crammed/Made to Measure series.

Like ‘new age’, ‘dark ambient’ is a dangerous label because it may scare away some listeners, the tag evokes possible prejudices about dolphin sounds (in the former) or monk chants (in the latter).
Don’t let such a prejudice misguide you: there’s none of this here – and you would definitely miss out of a great atmospheric, David Lynchian ambient-jazz album.

Also on Spotify


Earth Luminous

ERIK WØLLO & BYRON METCALF – EARTH LUMINOUS
Speaking of genre tags: Erik Wøllo usually operates at the lighter side of the ambient spectrum (and I deliberately avoid the use of ‘new age’ here since that doesn’t really do justice to his music).
The Norwegian composer/musician has been active since 1980, covering a wide range of styles, from rock to jazz to ambient music.
On this album, he pairs his widespread synthscapes to the tribal percussion of Byron Metcalf, who’s career spans over 40 years and many different genres. Ambient music devotees may know his name from his work with Steve Roach.
Metcalf‘s beautifully recorded ‘shamanic’ rhythm patterns add a steady, earthly beat to Wøllo ‘s ethereal, floating ambient – “a sound flowing freely along with the currents all the time balancing the dark with the light.”

Also on Spotify


Star's End 2015
ERIK WØLLO – SILENT CURRENTS 4
This hour-long live-set, originally recorded for the Star’s End radio show on Philadelphia’s WXPN, shows a somewhat different side of Erik Wøllo.
On his Silent Currents series (which are all live-sets for Star’s End, by the way), Wøllo explores the more abstract, minimal side of ambient soundscapes.
This is ‘classic’ ambient, firmly rooted in the ambient music of the seventies’ (but without the sequenced arpeggio’s)

“I think the interesting things happen below the surface where everything has a slow, suspended character. Like a deep river flowing unnoticed, motion happening in the undercurrents, or tidal water flowing in the opposite direction of the top flow.”

Also on Spotify

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Sakamoto-Illuha-Deupree; Chihei Hatakeyama; Lauki; Sonmi451; Roach-Metcalf-Thomas

Mist

Perpetual

RYUICHI SAKAMOTO, ILLUHA, TAYLOR DEUPREE – PERPETUAL
When you listen to this improvised set for piano, guitar, pump organ and synthesizer, it is hard to believe that these four musicians never played together before.
Ryuichi Sakamoto, Taylor Deupree and Illuha (Corey Fuller and Tomoyoshi Dale) only met each other just a couple of days earlier, on the occasion of Ryuichi Sakamoto’s “Forest Symphony” installation celebrating the 10 year anniversary of the Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media.
“‘Perpetual‘ is presented in three movements that traverse from soft layers of synthesizer and processed guitar, to open, airy sections of prepared piano and silence, to finally coming to rest in a most hauntingly delicate lullaby of lonely piano, crackling found objects and field recordings and tones suspended like mists.”

Also on Spotify

SAKAMOTO, DEUPREE & ILLUHA – PERPETUAL, MOVEMENT 3


Mist

CHIHEI HATAKEYAMA – MIST
If there is one musician capable of creating an aural equivalent of mist, it must be Chihei Hatakeyama.
The music on “Mist” – “inspired from such beauty of fog-like phenomena which reflexts the thin light to fine mist” – has the same comforting isolation a thick layer of mist surrounding you can sometimes have. 
The album’s closing track, “Nangoku” was originally created for a 24 channel PA system installation for extra immersion. But for those without a 24-channel home sound system, the stereo version on this album also does a great job!


CHIHEI HATAKEYAMA – SPHERULITE


Lauki - Thaw

LAUKI – WAITING FOR THE THAW
(Mikel) Lauki is probably a familiar name due to his collaborations with Pleq.
“Waiting for the Thaw” is his third solo album (the first two ( 69º54´S​​-​​135º12´E and GEA ) are available in digital format only).
It’s not only perfectly titled for the time of year – the end of winter- , but it’s also an album where Lauki’s ‘weakness for contemporary classic music, generative art and the aesthetics of the digital error’ blend perfectly into a perfect soundtrack.
The music is inspired by the classic Mauritz Stiller film Herr Arnes Pengar” (“Sir Arne’s Treasure”, 1919), a Nordic tragedy in which “the frozen atmosphere that envelopes the plot, the scandinavian winter, gets its own role.”
That is not just true for the movie but definitely for the soundtrack too!


Limbic System

SONMI451 – THE LIMBIC SYSTEM
The 50th release on the Time Released Sound label is a new one from Sonmi451, a.k.a. Bernard Zwijzen.
The limbic system is a complex collection of brain structures, “supporting a variety of functions including adrenaline flow, emotion, behavior, motivation, long-term memory, and olfaction (sense of smell).” On this particular set, the overall emotion are calm, friendly and warm – ‘a melodic and crystalline set of electronically treated ambiance’.
And with an omnipresent soft japanese female whisper.
As with most TRS releases, “The Limbic System” comes in two limited editions: the deluxe “Case File” edition (70 copies) and the standard version (150 copies).


SONMI451 – LIMBIC CORTEX


Monuments of Exstasy

STEVE ROACH, BYRON METCALF & ROB THOMAS – MONUMENTS OF ECSTASY
Combine the synth layers of Steve Roach with the frame, shaman and bass drums of Byron Metcalf and the didgeridoo and percussion of Rob Thomas, and the result is a hypnotic ‘tribal ambient’ set that is indééd an impressive  ‘monument of ecstasy’!
“Byron’s drums and percussion fuse with Steve’s hybrid grooves, array of analog modular, virtual analog synths and mixing enhancements; Rob’s serpentine didgeridoo weaves aboriginal textures and otherworldly voices, adding ancient layers to the trio’s flows and soundscapes.”

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