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Dutch Treat

Banabila - FMRIII

Looped Exodus - Souls Have Machines

LOOPED EXODUS – SOULS HAVE MACHINES
The third self-released full album (not counting the initial two EP’s) from Looped Exodus (Geerard Labeurfrom Amsterdam).
The music for this album was inspired by summer visits to sea and dunes, and reflects ‘the landscape, some theory and the act of escaping the hyper-reality…’.
Escaping the hyper-reality can be a deeply religious thing it seems; there are more than one references to religion in the titles: Psalm 88 <in Morsecode>, Monastic Piracy, Psalm 62, Techno for Sacred Spaces… (and in the hidden track Religion in the Age of Digital Reproduction, created with ‘digitally reproduced’ fragments of prayers).
There are many surprises embedded in the drone-based electronics: the combination with the operatic vocals (from a Bach piece) in Mein Hz works out very well, as does the morse-code text in Psalm 88 (I am not capable to check the code but I suppose it’s correct morse), the environmental recordings, the string loops, the FM radio signals, the slowed down jazz rhythm sample…
All these details add up to more than the sum of its parts…which is what makes this album sound so very inspired – and inspiring.


Banabila - FMRIII

MICHEL BANABILA – FEEDBACK + MODULAR + RADIOWAVES III
FMR III  is the third and final (?) release in Michel Banabila‘s series of experiments in combining the three sound sources from the title. It opens in quite a radical way with a loud synthetic gong that immediately draws full attention, followed by a minimal machinelike noise – an industrial meditation.
Modular synths are very fashionable, but too often the musical results only interesting for the nerdy buttonfreaks using them – there’s too much of  ‘what does thís button do??’. But not in Banabila‘s hands.
By using clever combinations of different sources, and by careful manipulation, his compositions – even the most minimal ones – get a fascinating cinematic tension.
In Banabila‘s diversely branched discography, the FMR series is connected to his electronic works (like The department of Electric Engineering releases) and thus quite a lot more experimental than his works for theatre, his jazz-related outings or his crossovers with world-music.
Michel Banabila still manages to combine the best of a lot of musical worlds in his rapidly growing discography, and there’s no sign of slowing down!

Also on Spotify


Dwaal / Wold

MACHINEFABRIEK – DWAAL / WOLD
Speaking of ‘no sign of slowing down’: Rutger ‘Machinefabriek‘ Zuydervelt only seems to increase his speed of releasing new albums: blink twice and his catalogue has changed. But even more impressive is that he is able to retain a very high quality level on all of his work.
Belgium based label Dauw released a cassette edition of two new works, both around 18 minutes. (The cassette edition has sold out fast, so you’ll have to do with the digital edition).
Dwaal refers to ‘getting lost’, and I’m not sure about Wold but I guess it could be local dialect for ‘forest‘.
So there you have it: the best description these soundscapes can get.
Imagine a fog so thick that you cannot see your own hand when you stretch it out in front of you. Then imagine you’re walking through that fog in an unfamiliar landscape. (It’s a flawed comparision, I know, since this weather condition usually means complete silence and abscence of wind. Still: it is precisely that kind of feeling the multiple layers of white noise, distorted hiss and weird subtle details evokes).


Wendingen

MACHINEFABRIEK – WENDINGEN
As if his own output was not enough to convince us of his musical genius, Zoharum releases a compilation of remixes that Rutger ‘Machinefabriek‘ Zuydervelt has done for others. Almost all of the tracks of this compilation have been previously released, but most of them are hard to find now.
I am not sure whether to call this a ‘various artists compilation with tracks by different artists all remixed by Machinefabriek, or a Machinefabriek album with sound sources from different artists. These are remixes, created for different occasions, but all of them have the Machinefabriek trademark pouring out of every detail. So in the end, this definitely is a Machinefabriek album – with a lot of different guest artists.
Some of the collaborating artists are familiar: Wouter van Veldhoven, Aaron Martin, Fieldhead, Gareth Hardwick. But there are also some surprising names: such as Djivan Gasparyan (!) and Amon Tobin.
Special props, by the way, to the cover (and inner) image, which perfectly captures the spirit Machinefabriek’s music!


Orphax - Time Waves

ORPHAX – TIME WAVES
With every new release, Sietse van der Erve (Orphax)‘s drones seem to go deeper and deeper.
Time Waves is a combination of a live recording and additional home recordings, inspired by his geology study – ‘when I learned a lot about the various eons, eras and periods, ages and what’s more used to describe time on the geological scale. While at one side it was always different on the other side some things never changed.’

However, as Sietse puts it: “if geologic time is too abstract for you, you can also just think of cat hair, just like you see in the pictures in this artwork.”



Wasteland Signals

MATTHEW FLORIANZ – WASTELAND SIGNALS
His earliest albums were released as Liquid Morphine, but soon Matthew Florianz released his music under his own name. There was a steady flow of releases – some of which gained a certain cult status among ambient music fans: titles like Grijsgebied and Molenstraat – before Florianz shifted focus to (game) sound design.
Though he continuously worked on soundscapes and soundtracks, there was a period of relative silence (no album releases) since 2011. In 2015 he released Tauern and Nocturne (Soundtrack for Science Briefings – which is exactly what they are: soundtracks for a video series about science unsolved mysteries).
(check below for free promo codes for this album)

And now there’s his new full album: Wasteland Signals.
Florianz has a personal sound, a musical style that is somewhat different from most other artists – or at least from those mentioned above.
With its lush use of synth-pads, it could perhaps be described as somewhat more ‘classical ambient’. The atmospheric background soundscapes, the kind that could’ve been written for a game soundtrack, are never far away. But perhaps most significant is that – in spite of its title – this album conveys hope, a sense of light that overcomes darkness.

Florianz used to live in The Hague, but followed his work to England.
“While still living in The Hague, I started working on music that has followed me around to three different cities and another country entirely when I moved to the United Kingdom. The music has changed, but the underlying themes have always been travel and what to be let go of, to move on.”

The official Bandcamp release shows the nine tracks that make up Wasteland Signals, but the download adds another 42 minutes of bonus tracks!

matthew-florianz-nocturne-soundtrack-for-science-briefings-cover

PROMO CODES for ‘NOCTURNE’:
Want to have a free copy of Matthew Florianz’ 93 minute album Nocturne – Soundtracks for Science Briefings?
Matthew
has kindly donated six giveaway promo-codes to download the full album!
Just leave a comment below! (Don’t forget to include the right e-mail address – and give thanks to Matthew later)

 

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Anne Chris Bakker – Reminiscenses

ACB

A few months ago I wrote some words about Anne Chris Bakker‘s beautiful album Tussenlicht“, a self released limited edition CD-R. (If you haven’t checked this one yet: the digital edition is still available!)

It’s a pleasant surprise to find that his new (first “official”) album Reminiscenses is now released on Dronarivm, the (Moscow-based) contemporary ambient and modern classical music label curated by Pleq and Dimitry Taldykin.

While “Tussenlicht” can be described as one single composition in four parts, the six tracks on Reminiscenses are more separate, stand-alone tracks, each with a somewhat different instrumentation.

Like on his earlier albums, Anne Chris Bakker plays all instruments himself.
In style, the music is loosely related to that of the Kleefstra brothers (known from their work with Piiptsjilling and the Alvaret Ensemble, among other projects), with who Bakker regularly performs. This also means the music comes from improvisation sessions mostly:

“Reminiscences existed with no detailed plan. It is more the result of spontaneous playing and recording over a period of 5 months using guitar, pedals and and a violin bow.
During playing lots of images came up in mind, quite similar to the half sleep state of mind where images and situations flow and bind in an unstructured way.
While playing and listening to the material it opened up a map of lost memories.
This is how I recollect. Reminiscences.”

The album’s opener “Between the Garden and the Lake” is a striking opener, because it is extremely unhurried. A statement of calm that sets the atmosphere for the rest of the album.
“I thought my heart was calm” starts with a quiet, indefinite, whisper – and takes its time to slowly build a climax which is quite noisy yet still manages to retain its inner calmness.

These two tracks make for the first half of the album. The second half contains 4 shorter tracks (between 2 and 7 minutes in length): piano themes merging with field recordings, drones and a closing ambient track called with the great title “Droesem” (= Dregs).

After “Tussenlicht”, my expectations for this album were sky-high.
I’m happy to find that Reminiscenses easily lives up!

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Gluid – Metamorphosis; Arpatle – The Day After

Ambientblog

Can this be a coincidence?

In the same week I have received two new albums with a remarkable resemblance: both are from Dutch artists, both have a bright ‘lightweight’, almost ‘poppy’, feeling yet are experimental in their creative use of sound samples. Also, both are defying contemporary genres. They’re not ambient, not too experimental, not strictly electronic, not improvised, but definitely not ‘mainstream pop’ either.

Could it be we’re defining a new genre here?


Gluid

GLUID – THE METAMORPHOSIS EP
The Metamorphosis refers to Franz Kafka’s classic Die Verwandlung’. This music was originally written for a theatre production based on Kafka’s 1915 novel.
Gluid (dutch for sound but missing the first vowel) is Bram van den Oever, and this is his fourth release. Musically, it is not unlike his remarkable 2007 release Binnensuis (dutch for ‘home interior’, but missing a consonant), describing a woman’s neurotic compulsive behaviour in a way too close for comfort – but this itme without the spoken word.
There’s a thematic resemblance between these two releases, an undeniable uncomfortable aspect to the seemingly lightweight music. Always something underneath hiding; things are never just what they seem to be.
The Metamorphosis EP is not released in physicial format, it can be downloaded for free! But please consider to donate to support the artist and his label Esc.Rec (pronounced like Ass-Crack – neither vowel nor consonent missing here).


Gluid -Faulty Narcosis


Arpatle

ARPATLE – THE DAY AFTER
Patrick ‘Arpatle’ Bossink (from Utrecht, Holland) has his new album released through Dublin-based Psychonavigation Records. Like Gluid’s album, “The Day After” also defies the usual genre classifications. It is described as ‘found sound with dub techniques’, but I doubt that description fully fits the album’s music.
It has a nice ‘airiness’ distinguishing it from many other contemporary releases, and links experimentalism, creative sound-searching to an accessible poppy (though not ‘mainstream’) sound worth checking out.


Arpatle – Headache

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Siddhartha Barnhoorn – Pillars of Light

Ambientblog


Pillars of Light

Pillars of Lightis Siddhartha Barnhoorn‘s first full album, but it can hardly be called a ‘debut’.

Although relatively young (born 1981 in Katwijk aan Zee, Holland), he has produced numerous film scores since 2004. Producing over 50 film scores in the last five years (!), not counting documentaries, trailers, commercials and other project, he obviously is not afraid of working hard too!

As a fan of atmospheric ambient music (which is not a strange thing when you’re a contextual composer), he decided to create his own independent album: Pillars of Light

Though they work very well without any visual context, the tracks on “Pillars of Light” could have been compiled from earlier soundtrack works: they have a very strong cinematographic feeling, especially in the first two tracks, ‘Foundation’ (with threating bass-drum rhythms, a screaming guitar track mixed deep in the background) and ‘Artifacts’  (dark atmosphere, ethnic musical influences and a startling climax halfway).

From the listener’s point of view, there’s a very thin line between contextual music (movie or game soundtracks) or music purely for listening without any added visual dimension.

Judging from the first two tracks, this album would not exactly qualify as ‘ambient music’ when ‘ignorable’ is part of your definition of what ambient music is..
But from there, the album slows down significantly and the sounds get somewhat more diffuse, somewhat more abstract and also lighter in tone. ‘Nebulae’  is ‘classic’ ambient with organic sounds reminiscing of early Brian Eno.

Barnhoorn is not aiming for the endless emptiness of stretched drones, but for ‘a collection of dark as well as light tracks, sounding organically and creating a complete experience together’.

And when the closing title track of this album comes to an end, he definitely succeeded in that.

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Matthew Florianz – Koude Handen

Ambientblog


Koude Handen

Along with two other (dutch!) musicians Machinefabriek and Michel Banabila, Matthew Florianz is one of the three “all time favourite artists” in my last.fm profile.
This obviously means I was eagerly awaiting the release of Matthew’s new album “Koude Handen” (“Cold Hands”), his follow up to 2008’s Maalbeek

“Koude Handen” is presented as a free download from Matthew’s website – available as high bitrate MP3 or even as 24 bit FLAC (which, mind you, is even a better bitrate than standard CD can provide!). The album page also offers the complete artwork, as well as some beautiful promo videos.
And, to celebrate the release of this new album, Matthew also offers his previous release “Maalbeek” as a free download!

Most of the (10+) Matthew Florianz earlier albums were released through H/S Recordings. But these days it’s getting harder and harder to release a physical album, especially in the ambient electronic music field where release policies are rapidly shifting to digital album downloads. So Florianz, who earns a living as a (game) sound designer besides creating ambient music, decided to just give away this music for free. 

Stilistically, “Koude Handen”  closely follows “Maalbeek”: dark, cinematographic sound sculptures, most of them related to environmental images: places Matthew grew up in (or the way he remembers them).  Nine tracks revealing different ‘images’ in which Florianz’ shows his sound/mood design skills

Unlike a lot of other ambient albums, these are not just stretched drones. On the whole, “Koude Handen” is more fragmentary, with some surprising ‘theme shifts’ (like the sudden chord in“Wissel” ). 

Over the last ten years, Matthew Florianz has managed to create a distinctive, recognisable personal style of music. His website shows he also takes great care to present his work in a way that is aesthetically coherent with his music. 

With the music ‘business’ collapsing, he struggled finding a way to release his music. Abandoning the physical release, as well as the idea of making money from the music proved to be a way out.
…since there’s no cost involved in the production or distribution of the album, there was really no reason for me to ask for money …” , he states.
I disagree a bit about the ‘no cost involved’ part. Even the simplest recording gear has a price, as well as the site hosting the downloads (especially FLAC which is about 5 times MP3).

But hey..there’s still a donate button to directly support the artist if you like his work!

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Various Artists – Herfsttonen

Herfsttonen

As the musical part of the “Landtonen” festival in november 2009, “Herfsttonen(Autumn Sounds) celebrated the local district of “Okkenbroek“, near Deventer (in Holland).

This may sound as if it is interesting to local citizens only.
Not true! – That would mean the large part of the world would miss this great project!

The three compositions presented here are very different from each other, but they are linked by the theme, and by the environmental sounds of Okkenbroek. This album deserves to be heard out of the local context, too, because it is dedicated to preserving the kind of rural life that may disappear all too quickly.

Some sound samples include people speaking in the dutch northern dialect, but even if you don’t understand a word of what they say you’ll understand they achieve heavy tasks by working together closely, by not losing their humour…but you’ll also get a glimpse of some of their fears, too. (In the beginning of the Gluid track there’s a woman asking “Er is toch niks ernstigs gebeurd, valt nog mee hè?” (“It’s nothing serious, I hope? Is it?)

Paul de Jong‘s “Okkenblues” introduces Okkenbroek (“Groot hè?” – Big, isn’t it?) with a striking violin-cello-guitar composition Greg Haines – style. The middle part of it has a beautiful musical effect: it’s like the music slowly dozing off while the image of citizens accomplishing a heavy task becomes sharper slowly (they’re obviously putting something in place, maybe the big vase especially created for this Landtonen festival). When the work is done, the music kicks back in to return to the beautiful theme.

MiaMia is a poet combining her work with soundscapes and video projections. She walks through the Okkenbroek landscape as if in a dream (“We always tend to forget our dreams // There’s always the morning coming inbetween” ). Her murmuring voice in the soundscape turns Okkenbroek into a haunting abstract landscape.

…Which is quite different from the view presented by Gluid, a project by Bram van den Oever accompanied by Cello and Vibraphone for this occasion. This track starts with some dark undertones, but definitely ends optimistic and lighthearted. If comparisions are needed: this reminded me of some of the impressive music coming over from Iceland (like Mùm, Sigur Ross or Amina)

Unfortunately, the album is only slightly over 32 minutes long. But it’s enough to leave you with the feeling you have been to a peaceful place vaguely familiar. And you will probably not forget about your visit to Okkenbroek.

So here’s my advice to foreign visitors: next time, forget about Amsterdam’s Red Light District and take some time to visit Okkenbroek and its surroundings.
And if you’re not coming over to Holland, just visit Esc.Rec Records to a grab a copy of this album – which may prove to be one of the most adventurous dutch releases this year!


Okkenbroek - church


Okkenbroek – Short Walk

Note: this track only features some fragment from the three parts of Herfsttonen.
You can hear more on Last.fm

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