DreamScenesis a Concertzenderradioshow since july 2017, so as far as the Concertzender editions go this is the 18th edition. But befóre it became a radio show, there it was a monthly feature on Ambientblog ever since October 2014. This means that this months show is the 50th edition!!
I tried to make this edition an example what I want DreamScenes to be. ‘Dreamlike’ is the only constant, which means you can doze away comfortably while listening. But be prepared: like in your dreams the journey may take some unexpected turns. Some parts may get a bit weird, scary perhaps, but overall it’s peacefully floating.
Musically it’s a combination of ambient, electronic, atmospheric acoustic, or modern classical music…. mostly recents, sometimes older. To be honest, there’s no fixed format – except whatever sounds ‘dreamlike’. Basically, it’s just whatever fits the (or: my?) mood of the moment.
I am VERY proud that Concertzender Nederlandbroadcasts these compilations (on the second sunday of every month) and makes them available for a worldwide audience to explore. Because that is ultimately what this is all about: exploring. Finding new music that perhaps you hadn’t heard about before, a starting point to dig deeper into the works of all these awesome artists.
Thanks for joining me in this journey – and if you can: please spread the word…
You can listen to all previous and future DreamScenes editions on DreamScenes.nl, or on the Mixcloudchannel. The Concertzender editions can also be streamed from their website.
Radboud Mens is a dutch composer and sound designer that seems to be operating somewhat below the radar. ‘Seems to’, because over time he has released an impressive body of work – solo releases as well as collaborations with artists like Stephan Mathieu, Janek Schaefer, voice artist Jaap Blonk, Michel Banabila and more recently with Matthijs Kouw. His first album was released in 1999 and since then many interesting albums have appeared in a more or less steady flow. 2018 looks like an especially productive year, with the release of two solo albums, a collaboration with 1605Munro (and two successors of his drone work together with Matthijs Kouw).
I’m afraid I was not sure what upper partial tones are, and there is no explanation on the release page on this albums background. So, usually that’s where Wikipedia comes to the rescue: “An overtone is a partial (a “partial wave” or “constituent frequency”) that can be either a harmonic partial (a harmonic) other than the fundamental, or an inharmonic partial. A harmonic frequency is an integer multiple of the fundamental frequency. An inharmonic frequency is a non-integer multiple of a fundamental frequency.” OK. So I’ll probably have to read that article more closely later.
But for now: better let the music do the talking.
It’s easy to hear that this album is about but I could simply hear that this album was about composing with overtones. Radboud Mensopens the album with a relatively short – and very relaxed – Polyrhythmic Ambient Drone, which sets the mind for the two longer Pieces for Oboe and Electronics (in C and in G, respectively). In these pieces (23 and 32 minutes respectively), the true magic happens ‘above’ the drone created by the stretched oboe sample.
By carefully manipulating this ‘fundamental’ electronically, Mens creates a melody of floating overtones which become the true centerpiece of this music. When listened on speakers, it is as if these notes float through the listening space looking for their place in the room, its emphasis changing with every move of the listener’s head.
It may need some dedicated listening, but once it grabs you there’s magic in the air.
The Ambiguity Of An Apparently Static Phenomenon was originally released as a limited (100) cassette edition on No Rent Records, but can be downloaded for free from their Bandcamp page now since the cassette has sold out (a few signed copies are still available directly from Radboud Menshimself).
The No Rent Records Bandcamp page lazily mentions Side A and Side B as track names, but from Mens’ page we learn that there are different track titles: Sequence, Tongue, A Temporary State of Relative Positions and the three part title track.
The Ambiguity …investigates how ‘apparently static’ (drone) music can still be an interesting listen. In this case Radboud Mensis not primarily focusing on using overtones, but creates soundscapes using bass guitar, electronics, organ, synthesizer, a Granulator II sampler and electric guitar.
The question is what exactly is ‘ambigue’ about the ‘apparently static phenomenon’, because this is a very pleasant listening experience – at least for anyone who can appreciate ‘apparently static’ drone music.
After this healthy dose of drones it can be good to return to somewhat more ‘down-to-earth’ music (with the emphasis on ‘somewhat’ of course).
This collaboration with 1605Munrosheds some light on a different aspect of Radboud Mens‘ music: ‘warm intelligent soundscapes that feel brilliantly open, thoughtful and oh so quiet. A contemplative and entertaining study in the art of skipping unnecessary notes.’ (Roel Kruize in the liner notes).
1605Munrois a somewhat weird-sounding alias of Andrés G. Jankowski – born in Buenos Aires, but ‘radicated’ in Berlin. And there’s a definite Berlin touch in this 10-track collection of electronic paintings, from frivolous rhythmic tracks to dead-serious soundscapes. Each track treasuring an original Krautrocky touch – a slightly lighter touch perhaps than the drone-recordings, but adventurous in their own personal way!
If you want to dive even deeper into Radboud Mens‘ drone experiments: the collaboration with Matthijs Kouw (1, from 2017) gets no less than two follow-up editions: 2 and 3/4 – the latter being a 2-CD album. Due to production complexities the release order got unintentionally mixed up: 2 is now scheduled to be released early next year, while 3/4is already available now.
Be prepared for the more extreme minimalist drones, Eliane Radigue style, with Radboudplaying long magnetic strings and analog filters and Matthijs playing modulars.
Apart from his filmmaking (he is a director at the Film and TV Academy NISS in Oslo), Benjamin Fingeris also a multi-instrumentalist ‘with a healthy disregard for genres.’ Some of this ‘respectful disregard’ is exposed on Into Light, merging ambient with electro-acoustic and modern-classical elements, a ‘classy meld of analogue synths, guitar and field recordings’. There are four tracks: two short ones of about 3 minutes, and two long pieces about eighteen minutes each. Perfect lengths for the limited vinyl edition.
Gravity’s Jest starts with a haunting cinematic cello part (performed by Elling Finnanger Snøfugl) that slowly seems to fall apart and is gradually taken over by sweeping atmospherics, until in the last third of the piece the mood suddenly changes with the introduction of Inga-Lill Farstad’s voice. Paradox Route, the dreamlike ‘a hazy weave of voice, instrumentation and analog colours that feel like a warm embrace from your headphones’, somehow mirrors Gravity’s Jest: it starts with Farstad’s voice, slowly submerges into more abstract electronics fragments, to end with a (more distorted) cello. The circle is complete.
I’m afraid I’m a bit late to the show: these albums were both released in July this year. But better late than never, and after all: the music is still available, so…
Dissimilar Lake Pigmentsis a cassette (or download) released by Rottenman Editions from Spain. The gentle music is inspired by Lee Yi’s ‘fascination with natural pigments and the many sensations
that the impact of seeing its wide range of intense colors produced.” Seven songs, spanning 30 minutes, ‘composed with organic dyes and a pink aura.’
The cassette is available in two editions: the Deluxe edition has a special wool fabric sheath, manuafactured and dyed by hand with natural pigments from Marocco. But that one is limited to only ten copies (only 2 available at the time of writing).
Eslandtika, released by Shimmering Moods, is available as a CD, a cassette and as a download. It is a collection of improvisations ‘recorded entirely on micro-cassettes’ – hence in this case the cassette is an appropriate medium for this album.
There is no detailed information about the album, but I guess the artist statement tells enough: “Eslandtika is a bunch of small memories that I would like to keep forever. Ordinary people, without any pretention; who have shared an instant of their lives and who have left. It is a tribute to a simple & beautiful past.”
It is easy to listen to this piece of music without considering its background: just sit back, relax and enjoy. Empiremay remind you of some of the best of Brian Eno’s generative music works.
And that’s quite enough for a recommendation in itself, isn’t it?
But then – consider the cover.
If you see a black square, zoom in – notice the subtle shading at the sides. It seems to tell us that there’s more to this than you may initially think. And indeed there is.
In fact, this composition is everything BUT generative. It is carefully structured, using a bell ringing pattern from NY Littleport Caters. The bell ringing sequence (and I’ll simply quote the liner notes here) ‘is an example of change-ringing technique – in which the nine bells are permuted continuously for several hours. From this Adkins created a nine-chord harmonic sequence each with nine layers of sonic material including old instruments and other ambient sounds recorded in large architectural structures.”
It’s even getting more complex knowing that this piece is created as an alternate soundtrack for Andy Warhol’s movie ‘Empire‘ (1964) – an 8 hour long seemingly static (and originally silent) movie of the Empire State Building, showing the building during sunset into the night – the last part of this movie showing only complete darkness.
Being from 1964, this film is stored on 10 film-reels of 48 minutes each. In Adkin’s piece, nine permutations of the bell-patterns occur every 48 minutes, ‘the combination of layers being unique in each occurence. The final reel, of the Empire State Building in almost total darkness, is accompanied by extended filtered materials from previous sections.’ However, this album is not the full 8 hour alternative soundtrack. The 51 minute version ‘presents the prime sequence of materials with the nine harmonic sections in their original order (1 to 9) and concluding with a section of the sound for the tenth reel.” It is near this dark end sequence where the sounds start to drift off somewhat and some layers of distortion are added to the bright sounds – emphasizing the increasing sense of being lost in total darkness.
It’s fascinating to realise that there’s such a complex, thought-out pattern behind music that sounds so ‘natural’. I never really realised that there could be a deliberately chosen complex sequence in the ringing of bells. Things can obviously more complex than they seem to be. But when this underlying concept seems a bit too hard to grasp, you can of course still simply sit back, relax and intensely enjoy the beautiful, mindful, immersive sounds of Empire
By way of a bonus:
Three gorgeous Monty Adkins tracks, Still Juniper Snow 1-3 are included on a 2CD-set called Bozzini+ on Huddersfield Contemporary Records. These pieces are reworkings of original acoustic pieces performed by Sarah-Jane Summer and the Bozzini Quartet. With their 21 minute playing time, Adkins‘ reconstructions are only a minor part of this CD-set; the rest of the album presents new music pieces for string quartet and piano quite different in style. So be sure to check out the full album first, or just enjoy Monty Adkins’contribution to this album on Spotify
To anyone even remotely interested in drone music I usually recommend to check out ‘s Trilogie De La Mort. Inspired by the root text of the Bardo Thödol (the Tibetan Book Of The Dead), this work (for me) symbolises the abscence of time and the infinity of space better than any other composition I know. For me, this 3CD (3+ hour) album () almost makes all other drone recordings seem superfluous. If you’d have to choose one single album of drone music, choose this one!
The ‘mother of this mother’ is Eliane Radique, a French electronic music composer, born in 1932, who singlehandedly set the standard for time-defying electronic music.
She chose her path when she first heard musique concrête, and studied and worked with Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henry in the late 60’s.
In the early 70’s, she developed her electronic music using the legendary ARP 2500 which she bought in New York and shipped to Paris. “It arrived without a keyboard. Eliane had deliberately left it with the New York seller, as she had already sensed the machine needed to be taken over per sé, in what it could produce without resorting to the classic play of keys, which easily changes the sounds and whose attraction would be to immediate, too obvious.”
From then, her attention focuses on creating electronic music. “Once the frequency of the oscillators which produce the sound are set, Eliane’s play consists in gradually modifying anything in the machine that can modulate its ‘voice’. She does so with such a degree of subtlety and slowness that her pieces often wrongly appear as static. Then they move and evolve like an ocean, whose motions are slow, quasi-imperceptible when looked at from a distance. To feel it’s flow, one must be right beside it.”
She continues to create electronic music, all of her work created in her Paris apartment until 2002, when she moved on to create acoustic works, often to be performed by a single performer who understands her work and what she aims to achieve.
INA-GRM (Groupe De Recherches Musicales) now honours her work by releasing a box set containing 14 CD’s (!!!) and a 80 page booklet. The box set is a 15+ hour trip into sonic eternity. It is not intended as the definitive overview of all of Radigue’s work: there is no early musique concrête and no acoustic compositions from after 2002 either. This set is dedicated to her electronic works. And since these works are so very consistent, it can almost be enjoyed as one continuous of work of 15+ hours! That, of course, was not the original intention, so luckily the works are presented in their original form so they can also be enjoyed in shorter sessions.
Included are Chry-ptus (in 2 versions), Geelriandre, Biogenesis, Arthesis, ψ 847, Adnos I-III, Les Chants de Milarepa (featuring the voice of Robert Ashleyand chanting by Lama Kunga Rinpoche), Jetsun Mila (2 parts), Trilogie De La Mort (Kyema, Kailasha and Koumé) and finally L’Ile Re-sonante.
The best news, especially for those who may be hesitating to buy such a massive body of work, is the pricing of this box set. INA-GRM offers this massive set for a friendly price of 60 euro (without shipping that is), obtainable via Metamkine.That is €4.29 per CD, actually – almost free for this glimpse into sonic eternity.
Wait… you’re still here reading this???
Understandably, Metamkine does not offer any preview options for this set.
It’s no use either to publish a short excerpt from her work.
So – by way of as an exception – here’s a link to a Youtube post of Kyema (from Trilogie Des Morts)
Operating under his own name as well as MVK and Swerve, Matthijs Kouw (his second name is Vincent, hence the V) has released music since 2011. Solo work as well as collaborations, works for dance, film theater and installations. Most recently, he focuses on long-form drone pieces, often in collaboration with Radboud Mens (follow-up albums of 1are about to be released).
Obscurum per obscurius is a latin phrase that can be translated as ‘(explaining) the obscure by means of the more obscure’. A well-chosen title for this collection of investigations of ‘obscure’ (or mysterious) drones. Drones that ‘were composed over an extended period of time through a laborious and intensive practice, in which moments of creative inspiration and creation, fraught with possibility, have ultimately become obscured in the final work presented here’.
Sometimes, a subtle rhythm seems to emerge from the depth: in Untitled 3 I can’t help to hear a pulse that sounds like an offbeat reggae rhythm guitar. But this is an exception (and hardly anything you will want to dance to): most of the material presents otherwordly gazes into deep alien sounds, found by Matthijs Kouw trying to explain ‘the riddles of matter involved the projection of yet another mystery, namely the alchemist’s own gaze and approach, into what was to be explained’.
Swedish (but now Amsterdam-based) sound artist BJ Nilsenmay be primarily associated with his albums using impeccably recorded field-recordings, but his albums were always more than just ‘archival sounds’: by careful re-arranging and subtle manipulation he investigates ‘the sound of nature and its effect on humans.’ For Focus Intensity Power, however, the main sound sources are not exactly ‘natural’ but strictly electronic. Maybe the difference is not that great after all: electronic sources, hums, buzzes, clicks and radiation are an unavoidable part of our aural daily environment.
Nilsen recorded the album during a short residency at the Willem Twee Electronic Music Studioin Den Bosch, where he must have felt like a child in a candy store among all the anachronistic analog sound devices and vintage synthesizers (such as the legendary ARP 2500 modular synth pictured here). As the liner notes say: ‘he exchanged his wax rain coat for the white laboratory mantle.’
Focus Intensity Power reflects his improvised sessions using modular synths, tone generators and test and measure instruments collected in this studio. The album is filled with a ‘red thread of analog pulse, droning waves and subtle and surprising noise interventions’.
According to Nilsen there is no underlying concept to the record, but for the listener it’s not very hard to find one. This is the sound of machines talking to us in a strange language, a language we can hear but barely understand. It is a sound to get lost in completely – if it weren’t for the fact that Nilsen accentuates the machines dependency by suddenly ending a track, cutting it off as if he flips a switch.
If you are remotely interested in the nature of electronic sound, in the very soul of electronic devices, this is an album to investigate.
“Where “Borders …” was a reflection on the instability of borders and their impact on the relationship between people and territory, “Disappearing In A Mirror” raises the very personal question of identity.”
Aldinucci manages to create a sonic version of a hall of mirrors, where you can get completely disoriented from the images of yourself trying to find a way out.
In a striking combination of gritty distorted sounds and distant orchestral/choral arrangements that sound like a stretched Beethoven symphony, the first two tracks present a frightening dystopic view. But from there, Aldinucci restores the balance (somewhat) with Notturno Toscano – as if he doesn’t want to scare the listener too much. But even in this track the intensity slowly increases again. There’s no way out of the mirror maze, it seems…
In the words of Giulio Aldinuccihimself: “Disappearing In A Mirror focuses on the fluidity of the identity concept, highlighting the harmonious coexistence of contradictory elements and the transitional features that characterize every transformation. It is a reflection on the current situation of change and disruption and at the same time it is a gaze into the human timeless soul and its inner soundscapes.”
A ‘Hall Of Mirrors’ is an entertaining maze as long as you realise you will find the way out at some point. But what if there’s no way out but to disappear completely?
If the sweat in the palms of my hand is an indicator of emotional intensity, this album definitely belongs on the top the list!
It took me some time to find out this was actually a re-release. I don’t usually cover re-releases but this one is an exception, since the original 2014 release on Casino Luxembourg was vinyl-only and destined to virtually disappear from the radar into cult territories. (Fun fact: the original release still seems to be for sale from Casino Luxembourg).
Lost In Time is Murcof‘s soundtrack for a video by Patrick Bernatchez, which in turn was a sound project that was part of explorations around Bach’s “Goldberg Variations”. The choral aria of the Goldberg Variations, as performed by Les Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal is merged by the – rather ominous – Murcof soundscapes.
The result is quite different from most earlier Murcofreleases. Much, much darker and more suspenseful than you would have expected based on his earlier work.
The choir arrangements sound otherworldly, alienated – I wouldn’t have guessed that they are based on a Bach aria, because it sounds more contemporary in this context.
The combination with the (mostly electronic) soundscapes is downright chilling. Which is why Glacial Movementsis the designated label for this fascinating (re-)release!
So praise to the label for re-releasing this album and making it available again on CD and digital download!
This particular edition features a bonus track available with the download, Chapitre N, which was especially composed for this Glacial Movementsrelease.
Norwegian artist Ajla R.Steinvåg‘s inspiration comes from ‘the process of metal partical accumulation in the human body’, which ‘can drive cells to activate inflammatory pathways, programmed cell death and subsequent encapsulation of dead tissue’. René Aquariusalso has a medical background: he is a medical scientist ‘with a focus on bone and blood vessel pathology’. But of course for us he is primarily known as the drummer of Dead Neanderthals (who were recently featured here because of their surprising Lifealbum), and for his collaboration with Rutger Zuydervelt. Their shared interests has culminated in a multimedia installation in eindhoven in September 2018 – so now only the soundtrack remains for us to enjoy.
Transmutation presents two tracks (the title tracks and Flesh Sarcophagus) – immersive deep and dark drones that move slowly, illustrating the medical process described above. Dark and as scary as it is beautiful. Aquariusis a drummer and from the sound of it I guess that these sounds are mainly creating using his cymbals and low drums, of course post-processed with a lot of effects yet still recognisable.
Unfortunately there are no impressions online of the installation in Eindhoven, and Steinvag‘s site has not yet been updated. But looking at images of his earlier work while listening to this dark soundscapes I assume it must have been an impressive event. (If anyone has been there please tell about it).
What is left now is the soundscape: a dark and alienating journey, slowly moving like the thick blood in your veins. Make no mistake: this is definitely a recommendation!
I don’t think I need to go in detail (again) about Uwe Schmidt‘s countless aliases and incredibly versatile musical output ranging from ecstatic cumbia to deep minimalism. I don’t know how he does it but Uwe Schmidt seems to have a musical Midas’ touch…
As Atom™, one of his ongoing series is Texturen (Textures) – long-form (50+ minutes) drone pieces that focus on microscopic details of sound. Texturen III ‘picks up where he left off with Texturen II‘, and simply starts as if a machine is turned on.
But from there, quite a lot is happening. Details float in and disappear again, the overall context remains constant but within that everything constantly changes and floats.
It ‘weaves and winds through landscapes of the mind that touch on all points of an emotional spectrum from caustic to convivial – Designed to inhabit the infinite space of your mind’.
Each part can of course be enjoyed separately, but the project may take on massive proportions if the collection is listened to as one single journey. It’s unclear how many editions this series is gonna get in the future, but I assume Schmidt will simply add a new edition when he feels the time is right. But when he decides it is finished, I really hope it will be released as a box-set (or maybe even a continuous digital or Blu-Ray edition).
From his website I learn that a live performance of Texturencan take on virtually any length – it took 4 hours at Berghain on New Year’s Day 2018! So obviously there’s more to come… I expect at least 8 hours so a full Texturen series can accompany you during a good night’s sleep.
But for now, just simply engage in the first three parts!
The Cryo Chamberlabel is a reliable source if you are looking for dark, cinematic ambient. The label’s name alone refers to outer space sci-fi adventures – and indeed: this album feels like ‘floating in cold space in a warm cozy spacesuit’.
Sphäre Sechs (‘Sixth Sphere’) is Martin ‘Phelios’ Stürtzer and Christian Stritzel. This is their third album, preceded by Tiefschlaf (2012) and Enceladus(2015) – it seems their hibernation cycle length is exactly three years. They create their music using a multitude of analogue gear, that they clearly master skillfully.
Particle Void ‘focuses on the space beyond the material’. No one knows what to expect from that place beyond imagination. But judged by this music, it’s not an uncomfortable place at all.
It may however take some time to get back to Earth at the end of this trip.
More down to earth (as opposed to outer space), but no less enigmatic is this release by BanishedPills, or Edoardo Cammisafrom Italy. Cammisacreates his music combining all kinds of sound sources: field recordings, assembled sounds, analog electronics, drones, mics and contact mics into musique-concrête like drone pieces.
Pieces that are quite dark in nature on this album – but you probably already guessed that from the title (and the alias). If you didn’t already, the track titles like Absorption, Wane, Gloom, Edge, Moth, Void will probably help you to get in the proper listening mood.
The inspirational quote for this album comes from Jean-Paul Sartre’s Nausea: ‘ I am the one who pulls myself from the nothingness to which I aspire’. Let this be a warning before you start listening: Failureis a strangely restrained album of gloom and anxiety.
I probably should be ashamed, but the name False Mirrordid not ring a bell and this album is my first encounter with this one man project of Berlin-based Tobias Hornberger. Malignant Records introduces this album as ‘the return of one of the giants of the dark ambient genre’ – the follow-up of 2010’s Derelict World. And, judged by this album, I have missed something indeed. Time to catch up.
Sigint is thematically inspired by all kinds of ‘secret communication signals’. This means sound source ‘include recordings of various electronic transmissions, encrypted messages of the German BND (Bundesnachrichtendienst – the foreign intelligence agency) and Russian FNB (previously called KGB), beacons, over-the-horizon radars, and troposcatter communications.’ But not just those found sounds make up this album: the sources are encapsulated in rich and detailed deep ambient soundscapes.
Soundscapes that I would personally not strictly call ‘dark’, like the cover image which eerie, but not really ‘dark’ in the classic sense. This music indeed is ‘a perfectly conceptualized harmony of calming warmth and barren isolation.’
If you like to unravel hidden messages go for the CD version, which has a 12 page ‘cryptographic manual’ to decrypt a hidden message in the closing track (the one with the shortwave spy numbers) that can be used to unlock a bonus track.
Driven by Passion and Perseverance, Sietse van Erve has turned his Moving Furniture Recordslabel into one of the most important experimental electronic music labels in Holland. A minimalist drone artist himself (his own music is released as Orphax), inspired by artists like Eliane Radigue, many of the releases on MFR are minimalist drone music. But not all of them are ‘minimal’, as demonstrated recently by the two label overview mixes he created for Gonzo (Circus) magazine, one called Maximaaland the other Minimaal.
But before you dive into the label’s back catalogue, check out these recent MFR batch of recent releases:
Haarvöl is a collective project from Portugal with three core members: Fernando José Pereira, João Faria and Rui Manuel Vieira. This time they’re collaborating with Bertrand Chavarria-Aldrete playing sirincho (a mexican string instrument) and 12 string guitar on the closing track Brumal.
Peripherad Debrisis the second part of a trilogy: the first part was Bombinate, released a year ago.
While Bombinate focused on ‘low, vibrating, humming sounds’, the second part of the trilogy moves towards the periphery, ‘where the turbulence is bigger and more decisive, precisely because it is far from the center, it is also in these remains that are the most stimulating sonorities to be explored. […] Perhaps there, far from the center, the experiments are more free and possible.’ As a result, the music ranges from (again in their own words): ‘quasi-ambient stillness to a mass sound quasi-noise.’ Exploring the periphery is a fascinating sonic adventure!
The track titles does reflect Haarvöl‘s explorations – but there’s one especially intriguing title: ‘Folding Simple Minded Into A Tiny Cube.’ I have pondered about this while listening but I still haven’t figured out what that could possibly mean…
For many serious sound artists it is (or should be) a natural starting point to create their own sound sources. Never use your synth presets or just copy samples from a commercial collection – leave that to new age artists. An important part of the creative process lies in the creation of the basic sound material with which the complete work is created.
Preliminary Saturation (Steffan de Turck,a.k.a. Staplerfahrer, and Wouter Jaspers) are now breaking this unwritten rule with this album: their sound material is taken from a 2004 release by Jos Smolders: ‘Textures and Mobiles’, which was created with a limited set of sounds: ‘dtmf and ccitt tones that were generated by telephones and pure sine waves that interfere with each other.’ The duo was very impressed with this release, and used samples of it years later for a live performance on Smolders’ birthday party. And now they use the same sources again to recycle and remix it (‘adding some of their own spices’) into this album. The original sound creator clearly approves of this, since he mastered You Are The Universehimself
I don’t know the original album, so I cannot compare these three tracks to their original sound sources and what Smolders did with it. But De Turck and Jaspers handle the original samples with all due respect, as if they were their own, and use the original material to create three long tracks (ranging from 10 to 16 minutes) opening up an amazing sonic world. A world opening up new possibilities with almost incomprehensible technology. It makes you feel like the couple on the cover, staring at the then futuristic looking computer setup.
Perhaps the most minimal release of this set comes from Ilia Belorukov, from St. Petersburg. Nobody Ever Escaped From There is the latest in his impressive discography, following up There Was Hardly Anybody There in 2016 (not counting the many collaboration releases, such as The Red Soul with René Aquarius and Rutger Zuydervelt earlier this year). Belorukov is an improvising artist often playing saxophone, but for this release he uses the Variophoneas developed by Evgeniy Sholpo in 1932.
It’s interesting to read some more information about the Variophoneto understand its strange wobbly sound:
“The variophone is a photo-electrical instrument for which you works by means of rotating cut-out discs which are recorded on film as sound. Due to the instability of this instrument the sound has a very natural sound to it, as well as a rich sound colour palette.” From these liner notes description I could not really imagine how this instrument works and sounds, so it may help to check this link to read some more about this instrument.
Belorukovdoes not use the Variophone as a solo instrument but adds field recordings and sounds of other devices. The result is a post-industrial soundscape ‘with a focus on the lower frequency spectrum’.
With titles like But Nobody Would Come, One Never Meets Anybody the atmosphere is as bleak and grey as the cover image. The dystopic landscape definitely gets under your skin – especially when played on a relatively low volume because the sounds merge with that of your own environment but drastically change the atmosphere. You tend to forget that there’s music playing but are still feeling that something’s not the same. And isn’t that about the purest definition of ‘ambient music’?
When you’re familiar with the surprising Dead Neanderthals release Life from april this year, ánd know the two artists have always been closely related, this collaboration of Rutger ‘Machinefabriek‘ Zuydervelt and René Aquarius will hardly surprise you. The duo does not spend much words explaining this album: they just refer to it as their ‘third collaboration in 2018’ (after The Red Soul and Smelter).
Glass Palace feels like a logical step after Life: a 34 minute drone piece that hardly seems to change on a first listen but where a lot of things are going on actually.
It feels as a recording of processes inside a cyborg-like life form that is slowly retreating from activity.
Or like watching a fascinating organic activity through a microscope at first, but gradually increasing the viewing distance.
Or earthly observations starting from a clear viewpoint but then retreating, like an astronaut watching Earthly struggles, putting all irrelevant global worries into a cosmic perspective.
With increasing distance, details become unimportant.
Oh well, just forget these desperate descriptions. While I’m writing this I realise that it is impossible to describe a sound like this with words.
I understand now why Zuydervelt and Aquarius did not even try to describe the sound of their Glass Palace: don’t over think it, just go with the experience.
I had never heard about the Siberian trio Presidiomodelo until this release, and was surprised to find out that they released a split cassette release with Machinefabriek earlier this year on Tandem Tapes. The Inner Empire is also released on tape, with a 15 minute part of the soundscape on each side. Of course there’s a digital download option, too.
With related concepts like the Shaman (‘priest of the devil’), permafrost, Soviet labour camps and other worlds (to which the Shaman has access) the context of this soundscape is rather dark. “Misty atmospheres infused with a murky, industrial aesthetic – a meditation on themes of self confinement and interior exile.”
“Rumbling synths oscillate amongst delicate beds of chimes whilst ghostly chants and guttural tones vibrate around the sound of handmade instruments and hypnotic drums.”
The original music for this set was composed for theatre, so the different sections merge into each other like changing scenes. A soundscape full of suspense and inescapability, like a compelling horror movie.