Piano Interrupted; Cassie/Kearley; Bill Seaman; Juxta Phona; Yamaoka

This “shortlist” is categorized under “Other Music” which means it’s only loosely related to what we call ‘ambient’.

Listen to reconstructions of Piano Interrupted‘s “Unified Fields”, your Inner Voicings with Dan Kearley and Daryn Cassie; intensely touching music from Bill Seaman; a playful Juxta Phona (which turns out to be Jason Corder) – to finally immerse yourself in the rhythmic patterns of Yamaoka

Boozoo Bajou – 4

The music of Boozoo Bajou (German duo Florian Seyberth and Peter Heider) has always been quite atmospheric.
The three full albums (and numerous 12-inches) they have released since 2001 contained the low-tempo dubby trip-hop often called ‘Lounge’ – the lush kind of sounds that German musicians seemed to master exclusively.

Their latest album, 4, manages to build on all they did before, and use it as a foundation to create an album that ‘transcends basic categories and expectations’.

Michel Banabila – Float

Beginning his career in the early 80’s, Michel Banabila‘s albums covered many different styles.
So many, in fact, that his place in music was a bit difficult to pinpoint which sometimes seemed to confuse critics as well as potential audiences.

His albums presented world music, jazz, theatre play soundtracks as well as electronic music of the abstract or ambient kind – all kinds of genres which Banabila seems to be able to cross over with ease.

Piano Interrupted – The Unified Field

The collision of different backgrounds can sometimes yield amazing results.
As Piano Interrupted impressively demonstrates with their new album The Unified Field.

Tom Hodge (UK) and Franz Kirmann (France) are not only from different countries, but also come from different musical worlds: Tom being a classical and minimalist composer, Franz coming from the world of electronica, pop and techno.
Combining such different backgrounds has of course been done before. Many tried, some succeeded, many failed.
But not often the result was as sparkling and refreshingly original like this.

The Necks – Open


Open

The ambient tree has many branches. In fact it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what “ambient” music is. This has raised many discussions, as the music called ‘ambient’ ranges from strict and almost unchanging drones to techno beats one can even dance to.

As the genre evolves, some borders are crossed. “Ambient” music can sometimes involve introspective (and sometimes psychedelic) folk music, massive guitar chord walls… or even jazz.
Most of the times, ambient music also involves electronic sounds or processing acoustic sounds.
But not always: sometimes ambient music is created strictly using acoustic instruments.
Enter The Necks with their latest album called Open“.

Marsen Jules Trio – Présence Acousmatique


Marsen Jules Trio

Only short after the minimalistic generative soundscape presented on The Endless Change of Colour“, Marsen Jules displays a completely different musical approach with this album by the Marsen Jules Trio.

As the …Trio indicates, this album presents Marsen Jules’ atmospheric soundscapes with the addition of two other musicians: twin brothers Anwar Alam (piano) and Jan-Philipp Alam (violin), with whom Marsen Jules played tours and festivals across the USA, Canada and Europe.

Présence Acousmatiqueis a stunning synergy of ambient, avant-garde, modern classical and introspective jazz music. It is released on Jules’ own Oktaf label, but stylistically it would have also fitted the ECM (new) series.

Eivind Aarset – Dream Logic

Norwegian guitarist Eivind Aarset will probably be known by many of you, just for his contributions to the music of artists like Nils Petter Molvaer, Arve Henriksen, David Sylvian.

When reading about his new solo album, the combination of some details made it clear to me that this was a release to look forward to:  

First: it is released on the ECM-label.
Second: it is co-produced and co-composed by Jan Bang 
Third: it’s title is Dream Logic” 

The Dwindlers – Allegories

Following up Leonardo Rosado’s “Mute Words, this is the second release on the Heart and Soul label, which was founded to release projects that combine music and poetry. 

The Dwindlers are a duo consisting of Michelle Seaman, poet, and Benjamin Dauer, composer and multi-instrumentalist. Although they have been working together since 2002, Allegoriesis their second album, following up their 2010 debut release Dreams”.

Enrico Coniglio – Salicornie


Salicornie

Most ambient music deals with more or less imaginary landscapes -like, for example, the two compilations recently reviewed: “Hidden Landscapes” and “Underwater Noises“.

This is definitely not the case for both Topofonie albums by Enrico Coniglio (who also contributed to the Underwater Noises compilation), that are inspired by Venice and its lagoon.

“A polymorphic portrait of what Venice is today, one moment decadent and melancholy, then romantic, rowdy, colourful and chaotic. Postcard of a thousand postcards, photos of a thousand photos…”

But, just as Venice is not like any other city in the world, Salicornie (and its predecessor: Areavirus ) is not like any other ‘ambient’ album.

Trevonic – No Red Lights, No Red Lights

Since 2005, the Polish label AudioTong has been building a remarkable catalogue of “so-called experimental music and sound-art….Music outside of the “mainstream” (especially from outside of the mainstream in the underground)”. 
Note the last part of this quote!

For those that feel that there is too much “sameness” in ambient music recently, the recent AutioTong release by Trevonic, No Red Light, No Red Light  maybe a welcome change.

Jan Bang – …And Poppies from Kandahar

The Samadhisound label, founded and curated by David Sylvian, simultaneously released three impressive titles. Together they present a landmark of the current experimental/electronic/ improv scene.
Be prepared: none of these albums are ‘easy listening’ music – in fact, a lot of this music wouldn’t even be considered ‘ambient’.

Jan Bang‘s album “…And Poppies from Kandahar” is a good start, because it contains the most ‘accessible’ music of these titles.

[R]ecyclopedia [R]emix

Let me begin with a warning: this mix is quite unlike the previous ones!
Though there are quite a lot ‘ambient moments’ to enjoy, it cannot be qualified as ‘ambient music mix’ because it contains a lot of other musical elements too.

This mix was created especially for Frans Friederich – a dutch musician currently working on a megalomaniac project he started in 1997: Recyclopedia.
One single full CD for each letter in the alphabet.
26 CD’s recycling and rewriting musical history associatively…!

Frans Friederich’s musical history shows a variety of styles: he played in jazz-, ska-, and big-bands, but also in experimental acts like Dull Schicksal and Trespassers W.  This musical diversity is also heard on the Recyclopedia albums: it’s a musical roller coaster ride with Friederich himself joining the musical extremes in his own personal style.

In 2009, Friederich completed the Recyclopedia Qalbum – which contains beautiful ambient music created together with soundscape artist Robert Kroos. 
(So, by now, about 65% of this project is finished – with this average output the entire Recyclopedia will be completed around 2017!)

When I started this Recyclopedia mix, I originally wanted to focus on the many ambient music pieces throughout the series, creating an ambient mix and leaving out all other music. But the nature of the project decided otherwise.

Charles Spearin – The Happiness Project


http://www.happiness-project.ca/about.php

It’s not ambient, and it’s only remotely electronic.
Still, when I discovered this album last week (it was released in march this year), it left me completely speechless and utterly fascinated.  
 
The Happiness Project is a concept created by Charles Spearin from Toronto, known by some for his contributions to Do Make Say Think and Broken Social Scene.

For this project he has been interviewing some of his neighbours in downtown Toronto, and used their recorded voice to create the musical track.
In these sample-laden times that in itself  does not sound very spectacular, but Spearin focussed on the melody of the voice and doubled it with a musical instrument fitting the voice. The pitch of the voice is never changed, but rhythmic and melodic patterns are created by repeating some of the phrases. Thus resulting in a sparkling and engaging kind of experimental jazz music.

"Friederich Remixed" by Banabila


radiolines

In december 2008, dutch musicians Frans Friederich and Michel Banabila met each other performing on the ‘RadioLines’ performance, organised by the (now almost deceased) radio programs Folio and Supplement.

Three musicians performing simultaneously, while live-mixed by one of the radio-makers. The musicians had no influence on the resulting mix in any way (there even was a possibility they were playing their parts without it being heard at all).
(The musicians brave enough to take this risk were Michel Banabila, Frans Friederich and Floris van Bergeijk – the resulting music can be found and downloaded [here].)

For edition “P” of Frans Friederich‘s Recyclopedia, a series of 26 multi-styled CD’s (one for every single letter of the alphabet), Michel Banabila created a beautiful remix, inviting dutch trumpet player Eric Vloeimans to play the additional trumpet part.
This track is unclassifiable: it’s jazz, pop, electronic, fourth world and maybe even more.
It is also a perfect example of what can happen when open-minded musicians work together for the sake of music, not caring about whatever expectations there may be!