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Cinema Perdu * Pod Tune

Pod Tune

Amsterdam CS

CINEMA PERDU – AMSTERDAM CS

There is definitely something ironic in the fact that I listen to this album when commuting from home to work and back, listening with a noise-cancelling headphone that shuts out the background sound of the train, the people and the station…. to listen to music featuring sound of trains, people and (Amsterdam Central) Station.
On the other hand, it is good not to be distracted too much, and thus be able to hear how subtle Cinema Perdu (forgotten cinema – Martijn Pieck) has incorporated these everyday environmental sounds into his (six) drone pieces.

Everyone that travels by train will immediately connect to these sounds, while at the same time they are unique for the specific acoustics of Amsterdam Central Station: the different roofs, the three tunnels with access to the platform, the ‘IJ-passage’.
Still, it is not “a pure registration of the sounds. It are not literal compositions of the rooms. It is my (Martijn Pieck’s) interpretation of the atmospheres the spaces create with the recorded sounds. I walked around with my recorder in the hand slowly from space to space through Amsterdam CS, sometimes standing still, observing and recording the experiences at this specific moment in time.”

Amsterdam CS is primarily a musical album, not an environmental aural documentary. The recorded sounds help create the atmosphere for the drones they go with.
Overall, it is a relatively quiet atmosphere: definitely not the hectic noisy rush hour unrest I know from my own commuting experience. That is probably why at first I thought the titles of the tracks referred to the time of day the sounds were recorded. Which oddly seemed to be (very) early in the morning or even in the middle of the night.
Looking again, I noticed that the titles are simply stating the duration of the tracks.

Amsterdam CS is a beautifully cinematic drone album. As could be expected from an act called Cinema Perdu.


Pod Tune

VARIOUS ARTISTS – POD TUNE  Also on Spotify

Please take a moment to think about “a musical collaboration between humpback whales and ambient composers.”
[…]

I think many of you now have associated this with new age recordings by anonymous artists, the kind of CD’s often found in rotating displays in souvenir shops in nature parks. Didn’t you? I know Í did.
But in this particular case, that framing is wrong.
Yes, there are sounds of humpback whales singing. The whole purpose of this album is to support organisations the work on behalf of whales and preservation of the ocean: net proceeds from the sale of this (digital) album go to Ocean Alliance and Blue Mind.

But one always has to look beyond one’s preconceptions and prejudices… As I learned myself when looking at the contributing artists on Pod Tune. I didn’t expect to find music from highly esteemed artists like Loscil, Roly Porter, Christina Vantzou, Jacob Kirkegaard, Eric Holm and William Basinski on this album (along with some artists I am not familiar with).
Not exactly the average ‘anonymous new age composers’, indeed, and consequently (in the words of the accompanying text with this release) the music is “expansive, otherworldly-yet-accessible, soothing, and inquisitive (and never new age-y or eco-schmaltzy).” (I definitely like that last word!)

By the way: I found out that this album was already released in november 2016 and so it has been around for some time. I don’t usually post recommendations of older albums but I decided to make an exception for this one. Because of my surprise about the line-up, but also because the oceans are rapidly detoriating and need to be cleaned from plastic. Not only for the whales but for all creatures that live in it (and for creatures like is that don’t live in it too).



ERIC HOLM – MY JAW WAS MADE OF ANCIENT WHALE’S BONE

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Jeff Bridges – Sleeping Tapes

Sleeping Tapes

Prepare for something remarkable.

Jeff Bridges will be remembered for a lot of different things and characters, but probably most of all for his performance of The Dude in The Big Lebowski.
Once you’ve seen that film, the image of The Dude will be forever linked to the way he looks, the way he moves, and – especially – the way he talks.

Now imagine Jeff – or The Dude, if you prefersitting right next to your bed, telling you stories like a granddad to his grandson would do … bedtime stories, memories he just seems to improvise on the spot, or even guided fantasies to help you doze off…
Would you be able to fall asleep?
Or would you fight off sleep to make sure you can listen to all he has to tell you?

On Sleeping Tapes“, Jeff Bridges sounds as if the texts he recites are improvised on the spot (which they probably aren’t). There’s a beautiful authenticity to this album because of the unpolished way he speaks, the way his wheezy voice, sometimes short of breath, is recorded.

Although Sleeping Tapes”  is presented as a spoken word album from Jeff Bridges, composer and sound designer Keefus Ciancia must get all props for the perfectly fitting musical background he has created.

Some parts of the album are quite tense – almost up to psychedelic. Calm and soothing  Bridges’ voice and tales may be – but sleeping will not be very easy with a soundscape like this that can get pretty haunting, like in “Sleep. Dream. Wakeup.”.
At other moments, you can almost feel the warm summer night around you.
And, should you be in need for some affirmation, you can simply play yourself “Feeling Good”:

“You’re very good at guessing when the traffic light will turn to green.”

Sleeping Tapes is presented on dreamingwithjeff.com, which is in fact an advertisement for Squarespace website design, who partnered in this project. It can be downloaded for free if you want – but it’s better not to because all profits are donated to No Kid Hungry (a campaign that connects kids in need with nutritious food and teaches their families how to cook healthy, affordable meals. The campaign also engages the public to make ending child hunger a national priority.”)

Simply donate $10 or more to receive an additional EP called (“Sleep Further”, which contains an extra 36 minutes of -instrumental- soundscapes).
There are physical editions available too, but of course they require a larger donation: $20 for a cassette tape, $50 for the vinyl album. If you got considerably more to spend, there are also limited edition vinyls or special boxed editions. Unfortunately, physical editions are only available in the United States..

“When I die there will be no burial or cremation.
I have contracted with spacemetary.
To store my remains on board an eternal satellite.
My body will forever loop around the planet and omit a flashing light whenever it passes over a memorable location.
Like that bar at Roundel Beach where we first met.
Or Ikea.”



JEFF BRIDGES – THE RAVEN/THE HEN/IKEA

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Various Artists – Touched Two

Touched Two

I really don’t know where to begin here. This “review” is the very first I ever write without having listened to the album at least a few times.

So, more than usual, this is not a review but a recommendation. How can anyone éver review a 255 (two hundred and fifty five) track compilation that presents 22 (twenty two) hours (and 45 minutes) of music from all kinds of of artists and bands from the contemporary electronic, ambient and modern classical field?

Charity compilations come in all forms & sizes, but Touched Two” is one of truly megalomaniac proportions. Even its predecessor, last year’s Touched”  ‘only’ featured half the tracks (123).
(I don’t suppose this means that next year will see a third edition with more than 510 tracks?? Impossible!)

The sheer size of this compilation is the first thing you will notice: be prepared for a massive download of 3.1 Gb for the MP3 version – for the FLAC version you’ll have to reserve more than 12 Gb of disk space.
But, as is always the case: it’s not just the size, it’s what you do with it!

All of these 255 artists have contributed their music for free – all proceeds from this album are donated to Macmillan Cancer Support.
You can help donate by buying this album for GBP 12 (= EUR 16, USD 19) – which is only GBP 0,05 (EUR 0,06, USD 0,07) per track! Or you could pay/donate some more, of course.
A perfect way to end the year!

I guess this is simply enough for a recommendation.
It’s impossible to list all artists, but you can check out the full list (and preview all tracks) on the bandcamp page.
As an appetizer, here’s a (not very representative) selection of some of the better known artists:
808 State, Antonymes, Arovane, Autechre, Bengalfuel, Brambles & Nest,Clem Leek, Dean DeBenedictis, Dub Tractor, Future Sound of London, Hecq, Higher Intelligence Agency, Luke Vibert, Marsen Jules Trio, Mira Calix & Ulrich Schnauss, Offthesky, Olan Mill, Orbital, Plaid, Pleq+Lauki, Porn Sword Tobacco, Port-Royal, Red Snapper, Richard Devine, Richard H. Kirk, Sun Electric, Will Bolton, u-Ziq. 

And that’s just to name a few!

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…. And Darkness Came.

Ambientblog


...and darkness came

The announcement of this charity compilation – the very first release of the popular Headphone Commute weblog – has caused quite a buzz in the ‘ambient’ music community. I’t not very difficult to see why.

Boasting a tracklisting of 87 tracks, it seems that almost everyone artist imaginable has contributed to …. And Darkness Came.
More than six hours of music (and sounds) for just USD 10 (or more, of course) – of which all proceedings will go to Doctors Without Borders and The Humane Society to support those affected by the recent Hurricane Sandy.

How’s that for a Christmas present?!

Just one glance on the list of contributing artist is enough to see what an impressive line-up this is. I cannot even begin to name them all, so I will just mention some of the more familiar artists:
Helios, Simon Scott, Kane Ikin, Roel Funcken, Sunn Hammer, Pleq, Autistici, Kreng, Julien Neto, Machinefabriek, Hammock, Lawrence English, Loscil, Peter Broderick, Nils Frahm, Ólafur Arnalds, Antonymes, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Dakota Suite, Olan Mill,Clem Leek, Dustin O’Halloran, Christoph Berg, Max Richter, Hauschka, Clint Mansell, Valgeir Sigurdsson, Bersarin Quartett, Brambles, Rafael Anton Irisarri, Ian Hawgood, Radere, Celer
-and that’s not even half the list!!

I guess most listeners will listen to these tracks in random mode, but it’s good to see Headphone Commute took great care to the track sequence:

“The flow of the tracks on the compilation is laid out to traverse the events of the hurricane. First a soft windy breeze, a quiet surrender, then a dark moving mass of wheezing noise until it suddenly subsides into a dark and peaceful stillness. Then the selection oscillates through five stages of grief: denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. In the middle comes a glimpse of light and hope (this is my favorite part – can you guess where?) and the flow takes on an almost lighter mood, until the world, with a few stumbles along the way, falls back into the cycle of the norm… with moments gone but not forgotten…”

Ambient/Soundscape compilations tend to get more and more voluminous every year: for example, think of the (Future) Sequence 1-5 series, or Escala 2.3 for another example.
But who’s to complain if the quality is this good?

Needless to say …. And Darkness Came immediately went to #1 in Bandcamp’s top sellers list on the first day of release. And it will hopefully stay there for quite a while.

2012 has been a very good and productive year for the ambient-electronic-experimental-post-classical-improv music scene – and this charity compilation is easily the best way to conclude it. Or to start 2013 with.

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Leonardo Rosado – The Blue Nature of Everyday

Ambientblog

Blue Nature

Misfortune struck last week when Heart and Soul and Feedbackloop label curator Leonardo Rosado got robbed and found that the burglars took his laptop and SLR camera.

Though he was wise enough to have his files backed up elsewhere (be honest: do you store your important personal files in a location outside your house? Please do so!) – for a label owner in this digital age this is a downright disaster. 

Leonardo had just finished his own solo album The Blue Nature of Everyday”  (which sounds like an appropriate title now).
So, unintended, this album is now also his own charity release to help fund his new laptop and camera.

On The Blue Nature of Everyday Leonardo paints some beautiful soundscapes.  All “Variations in Blue”  tracks are created from layered electronics, guitars, field recordings and acoustical instruments (mainly piano).  A beautiful blend of vague and clear sounds. 


Leonardo Rosado – The Touch of Your Lips

Apart from this album, this is a very good moment to draw some attention to the latest releases on Leonardo’s Heart and Soul  label: new albums from I’ve Lost and Gimu.

I've Lost
I’ve Lost – From These Hands 

Originally, the Heart and Soul label started out as a label to combine poetry and music. (You may want to revisit the Mute Words and Dwindlers review for this occasion).
But on the label blog, Leonardo stated that the label would “expand to other forms of connections between different arts”. 

I’ve Lost (artist alias of guitarist Bobby Jones) presents comfortable sounding guitar soundscapes, created from looping techniques not unlike Robert Fripp‘s “Frippertronics”.
Apart from one track – featuring a poem from Leonardo Rosado himself, “From these Hands”  is fully instrumental.
The art in this case features the illustrations by Ivo Hoogveld that come with the physical edition – for which you can choose you own cover of choice!!


I’ve Lost – First Fall

 

Gimu
Gimu – They All Left One By One…

Compared to the previous sounds, the Gimu release is an entirely different matter.
 
The titleThey All Left One By One, They All Left The Radio On” is as mysterious as the music sounds.
This album feels like you’re visiting a deserted industrial facility, deserted but still in full effect, with vague indescribable fanfare sounds playing in the background.
It’s uncomfortable and eerie, a haunted ghostly sound – comparable to some of Caretaker’s albums.

“Echoes of spirits past are trapped in a metallic field, cold drafts shifts us into a dark ambient world where ghostly tones an cathartic hammering reveal a realm both haunting and epic.”
It may be man-made, but judged by the sounds it has somewhat grown out of control.


Gimu – An’on, An’on, An’on

Conclusion:
Charity is a very, very good reason to buy albums. 
But buying these albums just because you enjoy the music is even better. Both may apply.

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Various Artists – Kanshin

Ambientblog

Kanshin

It’s a kind of a reviewers no-go to write something like “If you buy only two albums this year, let it be these”.

But in fact, if I could only recommend two albums to you, I’d recommend these two 2-CD compilation sets.

One is For Nihon – curated by Keith ‘Goldmund’ Kenniff and his wife Hollie. This set has been available as digital download for some time, but I’ll be reviewing this later as I have to wait for the physical CD to arrive. 

The other is called “Kanshin”  and has been released this week. 

Both these double CD-set present an unbelievable array of contemporary artists contributing their music to help raise money for the current recovery in Japan following March’s terrible earthquake.

Kanshin is the result of the combined efforts of Daniel Crossley (Fluid Radio/Fluid Audio/Facture), Jonathan Lees (Hibernate/Rural Colours), with additional help from Ian Hazeldine (Cover art), Wil Bolton (Mastering) and Damian Valles (Digital distribution).
Their names may be as familiar as those of the contributing artists, indicating the ambient/soundscape music scene has become a close (but not closed) community in recent years.  There’s even a direct link to the charity organisations that receive the funds, via Ian Hawgood (Home Normal label owner), who is living in Japan with his wife who is currently devoting her time to charity relief organisations.
“We felt that any funds we can send this way would probably have more of an immediate impact than donating via one of the larger UK charities.”  

Maybe there is a slight irony in the fact that a community of artists that normally have serious difficulties getting any income at all from their activities gather together to raise charity funds.
But do not underestimate the power of this community (especially since you’re part of it yourself!) 

Kanshin presents no less than 31 tracks – almost 2 1/2 hours of great music. I will not even begin to mention the contributing artists: below is a link to the bandcamp player, so you can stream all tracks on the album to hear for yourself.

There’s a lot of awesome music on this set, which would be one of the best releases this year even if it wasn’t related to the Japan recovery cause.

But for this cause, I would even have bought this CD set if it had been filled with silence only.. 

Links to buy the 2CD version HERE

Bandcamp Digital Download HERE

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Various Artists – Hope

The brand new Fluid Audio label kicks off with a promising start: a compilation album donating 50% of its profits to charity. (Toybox Charity foundation, supporting latin america’s street children).

One may wonder how much funds this may raise in times where ambient musicians hardly make enough money to break even on any physical CD release.
Just realising the fact that the ‘average Guatemalan street kid’ has an average life expectancy of four years should make you buy this album.
But the music included proves to be rewarding too – raising expectations fairly high for future releases on this label.

In fact the label’s second release “Licht und Schatten” by Field Rotation, lives up to these expectations quite easily. Unfortunately it has sold out much too quickly.

Field Rotation is included in this collection with Regenzeit, one of the best tracks on this album.
Other artists include Ishq, James Murray, Ben Beiny, Iambic, and most notably Bersarin Quartett.

The music included is the ‘accessible’ kind of ambient music  – mostly with a loungey feel and not too experimental (althought that’s very personal of course).
By definition, one could wonder if this is ambient music at all – hell: it even has got rhythm tracks!
It’s the kind of music you might even hear in a very fashionable bar sometimes.

There are quite a lot of nice surprises in the 13 tracks included, which makes this album a good buy even apart from the charity donation. My personal favourites are the tracks from Field Rotation, Snakestyle, James Murray, but in fact all tracks are worth listening to. I was a little bit disappointed in the Bersarin Quartett track (probably because of last year’s brilliant album) just because of the drum track crashing in and (in my opinion) spoiling the atmosphere of the track. But all ‘n’ all, this album is a perfect atmospheric listen, and a good introduction to those new to the “ambient” sound.

Do not download this album..just buy it and help prolong the life expectancy of at least one Quatemalan street kid!.


Hope Too

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