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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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Jana Winderen; Thomas Köner; Dronny Darko; Alphaxone

Alphaxone - Echoes from Outer Space

Jana Winderen - The Wanderer

JANA WINDEREN- THE WANDERER
Damn those extremely limited releases!! I cursed myself for missing the original release of this work: a beautiful 4Gb USB credit card that also included a surround (quad) version of this piece that was originally produced for a 16-channel installation. So I’ll have to do with the stereo version – which is so perfectly recorded that is is totally immersive too.
These field recordings may sound like a collection of strange animals, weird insects, wind, rain and an occasional drone sound. But sounds are deceiving: these sounds are hydrophone recordings from the Atlantic Ocean, from the realms of Zooplankton and Phytoplankton.
It would be interesting to know more about how exactly these recordings were made (how does one record the sound of Plankton?), but that detailed information is not included here.

Plankton 
comes from the Greek word Planktos, which means wanderer or drifter. Its importance can hardly be overrated:
‘Mammals, fish and crustaceans feed on zooplankton and they in turn feed on phytoplankton. Phytoplankton need two things for photosynthesis and thus their survival: energy from the sun and nutrients from the water. In the process of photosynthesis, phytoplankton release oxygen into the water. Half of the world’s oxygen is produced by phytoplankton photosynthesis.’

Half of the world’s oxygen!

With this half hour of ‘field’ recordings, Jana Winderen has created an impressive sonic monument celebrating the organisms at the very root of our existence!


Thomas Köner - Tiento De Le Luz
THOMAS KÖNER – TIENTO DE LA LUZ
Thomas Köner‘s music is can best be described as the black hole of ambient music. Immeasurably deep, pitch black, and once you get near there’s simply no way to escape it.

Compared to most of his earlier discography, Tiento De La Luz is somewhat different.
While listening to the first track of this album I even began to doubt if this was a Köner recording at all: it was so bright, with a light piano theme that sounded more like Harold Budd than like Thomas Köner.
But of course it does. It should be ‘lighter’: after all, this is a Tiento (a form of keyboard music that originated in Spain in the mid-15th century) dedicated to the Light.

Tiento De La Luz is the second in a trilogy, following Tiento de Las Nieves (dedicated to snow), and preceding Tiento de la Oscuridad (the title promises a return to darkness).
If you look at the cover from left to right you see it begins with bright light, but it gets thinner to the right as darkness seems to overtake it. Somehow the six tracks on Tiento de La Luz follow the same pattern. When the sound of the piano moves to the lower register, and gives way to chords of horns, it’s as if the light slowly retreats yet remains present in the background.

According to Thomas Köner, ‘music does not exist’:
“The beat has no presence and can only point to the following beat, the insubstantial note depends completely on its neighbors in the melodic line, the chord is dispensable after its harmonic release, and one abstract noise obstructs the other. I contend that these musical elements are marginal and peripheral, and in my work, they are emphatically de-emphasized.”
“The only element that is independent and able to communicate itself is tone colour. The textbook definition of tone colour can only describe what it is not: qualities of sound that are not related to pitch, volume, or duration. Tone colour is therefore the absence and yet the total presence.”

There it is: the description of Köner’s music: ‘absence and yet total presence’

Also on Spotify

THOMAS KÖNER – TIENTO DE LA LUZ 3


Dronny Darko Neuroplasticity

DRONNY DARKO –NEUROPLASTICITY
From Kiev, Ukraine, comes Oleg Puzan, a.k.a. Dronny Darko. His music is described as ‘ambient driven, drone influenced’.
Though that is a fitting description there’s also more to it than ‘just’ drones, as the opening track Mirror Neutrons proves.
Elements of musique concrête, sound-art, audio sculptures – ‘tiny sounds for those that pay attention’ -, noise eruptions that slowly build to a climax and then slowly fade again… But the frightening darkness is a constant..
The kind of deep pitch black darkness that is not comforting but unnerving because you’ll never know what you might find.
Neuroplasticity is presented as ‘an introverted journey through the psyche of the listener’, so you better be prepared for some surprises before you start listening.


Alphaxone - Echoes from Outer Space

ALPHAXONE – ECHOES FROM OUTER SILENCE
As the Abscence compilation showed, Iran seems to be a fertile place for electronic experimental/ambient music. Alphaxone is Mehdi Saleh is another example.
This is his fourth full album for the well-named Cryo Chamber label, the follow-up to last year’s Altered Dimensions.
It’s a set filled with spacey drones, ‘droney dreamscapes packed with some serious analogue warmth – best enjoyed when relaxing with a cup of freeze dried coffee in zero G’ 

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Pleq & Giulio Aldinucci; Umchunga; Dronny Darko & ProtoU; Matthew Atkins

Dronny Darko & ProtoU

Pleq + Giulio

PLEQ & GIULIO ALDINUCCI – THE PRELUDE TO
Italian electroacoustic artist Giulio Aldinucci (also known as Obsil) meets Polish experimental wizard Bartosz Dziadosz (aka Pleq). The opening (title) track was their first collaboration, previously published on Home Normal’s Elements 5They continued working together after that, which resulted in these four tracks. It’s a fascinating mix of matching ingredients: the subtle piano notes, vocal samples, field recordings and stretched drones all seem to fall into the right place.
The piano notes in the title track never take center stage: they are mere accents in the background, yet once you heard them you’ll always recognise them.
Three of the four tracks are reworked by The Green Kingdom, Christopher Bissonnette and Olan Mill to complete this full album.
If this is the prelude, we can definitely look forward to further collaboration work from these two artists!


Umchunga

UMCHUNGA – SHOULD HAVE BEEN DONE BY NOW
It starts with a quiet drone, but after a few minutes there’s an unexpected twist in intensity. Droning organ sounds and effects reminiscent of early Pink Floyd, from their most psychedelic period. But on the other side, there are also the calm guitar themes from the title track.
Nima Pourkarimi (from Tehran) named Umchunga after the Mira Calix song Umchunga Locks. This is his debut album: ‘six tracks of atmosphere drones and static noise, each reflecting a particular state of mind in which he found himself at the time.’
I don’t know if it’s the context and being from Tehran that gives this album an extra, and somewhat different, dimension: there’s a cry of despair in almost every track, but there’s also hope.


Dronny Darko & ProtoUDRONNY DARKO & PROTOU – EARTH SONGS
A (dark) ambient concept-album: starting out with the Big Bang (13.8 billion years ago), and exloring various stages of evolution from there – even into the distant future in Leaving Earth (2135 AD).
Given the enormous span of time it thematically covers, it’s remarkable that these seven tracks sound remarkably consistent: it’s a calm atmospheric, misty cover to immerse yourself deeply into.
Of course, you can also ignore the concept if you want, and just see where your own imagination gets you.
Dronny Darko is Olec Puzan (and onviously fascinated by all things outer space), and ProtoU is Sasha Cats  – a trained violinist and choir vocalist now exploring more experimental territories. They are both living in Kiev (Ukraine).


Geometric Decay

MATTHEW ATKINS – GEOMETRIC DECAY
Matthew Atkins (not be confused with Matthew (‘Monty’) Adkins – the difference is only one letter) runs the Minimal Resource Manipulation label, and this album is the fourth release under his own name.
Atkins uses all kinds of found sounds, field recordings and drones, takes them out of their original context to replace them in these sonic collages ‘whose textures teeter at the edge of noise in places. This is offset with almost meditative passages with snatches of repeated melodies and looped textural blocks’.
The result is a fascinating kind of abstract, industrial, but above all otherworldly soundscapes. Bandcamp offers the digital download, but you can order a hand stamped cardboard sleeve physical edition here.

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