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Dronny Darko * Phonothek * Dead Melodies

Abduction

Abduction

DRONNY DARKO – ABDUCTION  Also on Spotify

If you like your soundscapes dark and haunting, full of suspense, Dronny Darko (from Kiev, Ukraine) will definitely fulfill your needs (as will most of the releases on the Cryo Chamber label).

Abduction is described as “merging the lowercase and minimal genre with a strong science fiction element.”
“Lowercase music”, Darko
 explaines, is a minimalistic sound art that “amplifies acoustic objects and paints collages with them. Those are sounds that we almost cannot hear with a naked ear. Something like the hum of the domestic sound system, ants rumbling, plants growing,  etc.”.

The result of this process can hardly be called ‘minimal’: it’s an overwhelming and irresistible plunge into the deep unknown, where “throbbing bass layers croak and groan under the pressure of whirling machines that buzz and hum.”


Phonothek - Red Moon

PHONOTHEK – RED MOON   Also on Spotify

Phonothek‘s second album for Cryo Chamber (the follow-up of last year’s Lost in Fogcontinues “the theme of the inevitable death of our planet”.
So here’s the image to keep in mind when you listen to the track Last Melody:

“A sad lonely trumpet echoes between ruined apartment complexes. The ground is dry and dusty, nothing grows here. Where once laughter of children lingered, now only the creak of broken swings remain. The earth is dying. The chosen got on the ships, but not you.” 

The Georgian duo (George Shamanauri and his wife Nina) mixes many genres without losing the desolate atmosphere: there’s dark ambient (obviously), but also David Lynch-like dark ambient-jazz – with a leading role for  the trumpet.
The latter  will not surprise you knowing George was (is) the principal trumpet in the Tbilisi State Opera Orchestra, the Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra and the Georgian Philharmonic, as well as a participating member in many other ensembles. Nina also studied at the Tbilisi State Conservatory, and continues to work in different projects.

For their work with Phonothek they developed a clear conceptual sound, one that isn’t usually taught at conservatories (though conservatories in Georgia might be different, I don’t know about that).
Their soundscapes are one of the most adventurous examples of ‘dark ambient’ soundscapes you will be able to find.
“It brings the sound of the old world to life as it shines light on the new and dying one.”


Dead Melodies

DEAD MELODIES – LEGENDS OF THE WOOD   Also on Spotify

Dead Melodies  (Tom Moore, UK)  come from the same stable: it’s his first album for Cryo ChamberBut it’s not a ‘debut’: over eight years Moore has released ten albums, EP’s and a large amount of collaborations making anything from dub to folk to ambient”.

With its lush field recordings and reverbed guitar, the musical approach is somewhat different – possibly taking its inspiration from English (foggy) landscapes. At least, in the beginning of this album.
There’s a ominous undercurrent in the music, and the eeriness soon takes over. Titles that tell tales of Crows and Blood, Devil’s Hill, the Hooded Nine and a Malevolent Rising will probably already have told you to stay on guard.

“The damp morning dew forms translucent drops on the knee-high grass. Whatever was out there last night seems gone but the birds are not yet singing and the animals still hiding.”
How’s that for  creating an atmosphere?

But rest assured (spoiler alert!): the last track is titled  Beautiful Coalescence. So no need to worry too much.

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Rasalasad * Phelios * Ionosphere

Phelios

Rasalasad - Magnetism

RASALASAD – MAGNETHISM

Rasalasad is Fernando Cerquira, mixing spoken wordcore, drone, broken word, experimental, library music… among founding and running the Portuguese Thisco label that specialises in releasing music that is hard to classify (although ‘experimental’ will do for most of them) in unorthodox packages or multimedia forms. An impressive lists of artists that have been involved in the Thisco label in some way – to name only a few: Merzbow, Rapoon, Terre Thaemlitz, KK Null, Jarboe, Francisco Lopez, Troum, Bela Emerson, Stephan Mathieu, Lawrence English, Hafler Trio, Michel Banabila … the list is endless and shows that Cerquira has been around the scene from the mid-80’s.

Thisobey is the name of an ongoing series of EP releases packed in an unusual cardboard box inside a plastic bag. The series presents collaborations of in-house artists with specially invited musicians.

Magnethism is the first from this Thisobey series, and it’s a great example of what may come after. It’s a 17 minute drone soundscape created by Rasalasad  featuring spoken word, whispering and poetry by the French collectives Von Magnet and Wildshores.
And yes, this means this rather dark, nightmarish sound poetry.
It is a strange and common misconception that music must be loud to be intense. Magnethism proves this isn’t necessarily so.


Phelios

PHELIOS – HUMAN STASIS HABITAT

Dark ambient is a deceitful genre tag: it often represents a lot of horrific music that seems to be the exact opposite of what is usually called new age, usually recognised by the use of churchbells and chanting monks.
But, on the other hand, there is also a lot of music labeled dark ambient that is interesting, multi-layered and can invoke a deep-listening experience.
Such as this one.

The Phelios alias, the album title, the album artwork – they all promise the same thing: darkness. And darkness is what you get. An almost comforting blanket of darkness.

Phelios is Martin Stützer from Wuppertal, Germany. Apart from creating music, he is also responsible for the organisation of the Phobos Festival, a series of dark ambient concerts,
Human Stasis Habitat,  his latest release on the German Loki Found label, is an immersive trip into deep space, a dive into the ominous unknown.

Also on Spotify


Ionosphere Stellar Winds

IONOSPHERE – THE STELLAR WINDS

The same (Loki-Foundlabel also re-releases this title, that originally appeared in 2007 on CDr. The (remastered) CD version is expanded with two extra tracks. All tracks are named The Stellar Winds, except for the closing track which is called Continuum Radiation Force.

As expected, these recordings are every bit as dark as the previously mentioned Phelios release. A bit more haunting, in a way, because there are some heavily processed (vocal) samples mixed in for enhanced eeriness.

“Deep, shimmering, ambient scapes and electromagnetic waves, drifting in the boundless dark.”

Also on Spotify

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Various Various

Evidence of Intense Beauty

Evidence of Intense Beauty

EVIDENCE OF INTENSE BEAUTY

The Audiobulb label succesfully proves the existense of intense beauty with the release of this compilation of ‘pioneers in the field of ambient microsound and modern classical’, each selecting a track that ‘represents their conceptual sense of beauty’.
Among the list of contributors are Clem Leek, Wil Bolton, Sawako, Taylor Deupree, Autistici, Richard Chartier, Ian Hawgood, Marcus Fischer, Monty Adkins, Antonymes, Listening Mirror (to name only a few) .

Paul Dresher once said that human attention and counsciousness works by “holding onto a certain amount of familiarity, and then introducing a certain amount of newness. “‘ When the familiarity and the newness are balanced, the experience may be one of intense beauty.”

“Beauty” is different for everyone of course, it’s in the eye of the beholder. But this music is specifically targeted at an audience that “actively engage with music and who want to be taken on a journey”.
“Each track takes the ingredients of minimalism coupled with a strong sense of tonality to produce a slowly evolving narrative.”
And for that audience, this equals beauty indeed.

With a clear conceptual vision like this, the  17 tracks (98 minutes) are not only ‘evidence of intense beauty’, but also proof of the label’s consistent quality.

Also on Spotify


 Tranquility 6   Tranquility 7

FROM HERE TO TRANQUILITY – VOLUME 6 (THE RENAISSANCE) * VOLUME 7 (THE RENAISSANCE CONTINUES)

If you were into ‘ambient’ music in the 90’s, you’ll probably know the Silent (Records) label. If you discovered the genre later, you SHOULD know about the label, because it was hugely influential and set many standards in experimental electronics. Its founder and curator, Kim Casconeleft the label in 1996 to work as a sound designer for Thomas Dolby’s Headspace organisation. Without him, the label slowly disappeared until it finally shut down in 1998.

Early 2016, rumours emerged that a ‘renaissance’ was to be expected. One important part of this resurrection is the dedicated Silent Channel webstream on the famous Soma FM internet radio station, playing selections from the Silent catalog.
Another is the release of these two compilations: part 6 and 7 of the From Here To Tranquility series. Part 6 (16 tracks, 104 minutes) is available in a 2-CD version or digital download, while Part 7 is a download-only release because with its 24 tracks running 165 minutes it’s simply too massive for a physical edition.
Both editions are divided in a Light Disc and a Dark Disc, which is some indication about what atmospheres to expect.

“We shade our ambient in sound colors light and dark. Signals in and out of the calm and stillness of what is left unsaid. Treasured roadmaps. Coded experiments. We retouch the mindset of the past and turn to the future.”

The ‘renaissance’ collection simply picks up where the label left, with a lot of references to the original 90’s experimental ambient style while at the same time looking forward into new directions.
Although it is divided in two editions, it feels to me as one huge collection that immediately places the Silent label back in the forefront of experimental ambient music.
Welcome back, Kim!


Also on Spotify


Also on Spotify


Where Words Fail Music Speaks

WHERE WORDS FAIL, MUSIC SPEAKS

A sad cause triggered fund-raising charity release: it is intended to help cover the cost of treatment of Ania Mehring, who was diagnosed with Sarcoma Synoviale, an exceptionally malignant tumor.
Ania is the wife of Maciej Mehring, founder of the Zoharum label – a label regularly featured on Ambientblog. Santa Sangre Magazine curated this massive 7 1/2 hour compilation (digital download-only obviously), for which many friends and related artists provided a previously unreleased track.

There are many obscure performers (at least for me) on the list, but many well-known artists too: Robert Rich, Biosphere, Troum, S.E.T.I., Machinefabriek, Phurpa, Cindytalk, Alio Die, Mathias Grassow, Dirk Serries and Celer – the latter closing the album with a beautiful warm and comforting 59 minute track called The Rest Remembered.

The majority of the 62 tracks are (experimental) ambient and drone tracks. Understandably, this is not a happy-go-lucky playlist: most of the music is dark and ominous, with a range from quiet calm to deafening noise. There’s a section of industrial and ‘neofolk’ tracks too. This set may seem a bit of an odd detour from the ambient selections – but they are clustered together (track 17 – 32) so they can easily be isolated to a full album – a collection within the collection.

Even if you probably won’t like all of it, there’s enough material to select a few hours of fascinating music for everyone (well, almost everyone). That’s a good enough reason to pay EUR 9.99 for this set. An even better reason is knowing that you support a good cause buying this album: help Ania get her necessary treatment and help her get better!

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Darren McClure; Randall Collier-Ford; Flowers for Bodysnatchers; E.U.E.R.P.I.

Apperception

DARREN MCCLURE – APPERCEPTION
Born in Ireland but currently living in Matsumoto, Japan, Darren McClure ‘intents to create sound to both zone out to and zone into, a balance of widescreen drones and more minimal, abstract ambience’.
Living in Japan must have sharpened his eye (and ear) for subtle details, which he’s able to re-create in his fascinating sound art ambience.
Apperception” means ‘the process of understanding by which newly observed qualities of an object are related to past experience’.
Each of the (six) pieces has a distinctly different atmosphere.
It’s interesting to realise that this music may mean different things to every single listener, because of the connection of the sounds with individual past experiences.


Remnants

RANDALL COLLIER-FORD – REMNANTS
Cryo Chamber specializes in releasing ‘Cinematic Dark Ambient’ , and with this Randall Collier-Ford release that is exactly what you get: 10 tracks of dark and brooding isolationist soundscapes that slowly seem to pull you underground.
To take away any possible prejudice against ‘dark ambient’: ‘we’re not talking about the ‘new-age dark ambient’ kind with monks, Gregorian chants, church-bells and such, mind you, but  about carefully crafted, haunting soundscapes that would work perfectly as a background for suspenseful (horror? sci-fi?) movies or scary video-games.
‘Deep high quality with a cinematic edge’   – a great release and a good example of Cryo Chamber’s shared philosophy of sound design.


Also on Spotify


Aokigahara

FLOWERS FOR BODYSNATCHERS – AOKIGAHARA
With its lovely piano themes, this album seems to be much less dark than the average Cryo Chamber release. But sounds are deceiving, because there is bottomless deep darkness underneath:
Aokigahara is the name of a 35-square-kilometre forest at the northwest base of Mount Fuji in Japan. It is a notoriously common suicide site, also referred to as the Suicide Forest, and has an historu association with demons in Japanese mythology.

Knowing about this background, Duncan (Flowers of Bodysnatchers) Ritchie‘s album of atmospheric textural layers gets a different meaning.  Now, the piano themes only enhance the loneliness instead of soothing it.
(Of course titles like A Rope To End It All also help create the right expectations)

“Aokigahara forest is dense, shutting out all but the natural sounds of the forest itself.”
Venture into it too deep far may mean you’ll find yourself ‘past the edge unable to return.”


Also on Spotify


EUERPI

E.U.E.R.P.I. – SPACE AND ANIMALS
With a minimal setup – guitar and software effects – Myrian Kolev (Sofia, Bulgaria) creates some fine relaxing soundscapes. Avoiding the obvious pitfalls – like re-creating the usual ‘frippertronics’ or too obvious drones – he creates his own personal, minimal and repetitive, style, transcending the usual guitar ambient.
The result is some nice, unobtrusive music to play in the background, at the same time interesting enough for more attentive listening.
And that is why this might also appeal to a somewhat larger audience than most ambient music. If that audience can find it, of course….

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