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Markus Guentner * Max Corbacho

Nocturnes II

Markus Guentner - Empire


The disclaimer, as usual, is that the vinyl version edition has sold out quickly (note: see last remark below).
There’s no CD edition of this A Strangely Isolated Place release, so if you missed the earlier announcement you’ll have to do with the digital download or streaming options. But don’t let that fact withhold you, because Empire may very well be one among the most engaging ambient albums you’ll find this year.

About half of the tracks on this album (4 out of 7) are Markus Guentner solo performance tracks, exploring “sometimes sinister, but always majestic territories with his unique manipulation of looping drones, textures and gradual atmospheres.
These tracks are alternated with collaborations with different artists: Julia Kent (cello), Tom Moth (harp, known from Florence and the Machine), and bvdub. Their different instrumental input does not break the atmosphere of the solo tracks – on the contrary. It is as if the course of this album is meticulously planned to tell a story, like a book or a movie. This is what makes the album is interesting from the first to the very last minute and can best be heard in full in its original sequence.
With the input of his collaborators, Guentner manages to avoid the ‘sameness’ many ambient albums suffer from while at the same time telling a coherent story that involves many emotions. Sometimes dark and sinister, exploring emptiness, but also melancholic, exploring rays of hope and even joy.

“Be it physical, scientific or mythological, Empire draws on the ebb and flow relationship the Earth has with the deeper, unknown space around us.”

I usually try to avoid overly exaggerated qualifications about albums, since all is subjective and in the ear of the beholder. But I dare say this a landmark album. One for the history books.
Ánd at the same time one of which the physical edition sold out in two weeks after release date… I suggest ASIP to start considering a re-press.

(note: shortly before publishing this a few last copies have become available again on Bandcamp and Juno… so don’t wait too long).

Nocturnes II


If you enjoyed 2017’s Nocturnes, here’s the follow-up for extended nightly explorations. On this second part of the trilogy dedicated to “a new world, hidden before the sunset”, Max Corbacho presents seven tracks of atmospheric soundscaping – “sound meditations” that “burn slowly, like the light of a distant star, illuminating a breathing, ghostly landscape”.

To make sure the atmosphere was right, Corbacho thoroughly tested them:
“During the creation process, in my checks during the recording, mixing and mastering, I submerged myself in the quiet meditation and silent isolation of the night in the middle of nature to verify the effect by myself each time I completed a piece or made a change.”

Perfect for nocturnal listening of course, but a great pleasure to listen to in the daytime, too:
Nocturnes II can be enjoyed at a background level, accompanying the listener’s daily tasks, or in a more active listening at a high volume creating a powerful and visceral experience.”

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Loscil * Library Tapes * Aaron Martin/Leonardo Rosado

In the Dead Of Night

Monument Builders


The inspiration for the new Scott Morgan album came when he watched an old VHS copy of KoyaanisqatsiThe ‘VHS’ format added lo-fi enhancement to the visual experience:

“Something about the time-tarnished visuals and the pitch warble on Philip Glass’s  epic score added a new layer of intrigue for me. Glass has always been an influence, but lo-fi Glass felt like a minor revelation, as if the decay was actually enhancing the impact of the film’s message”.

This also explains the many references to Philip Glass’s repetitive, minimalist composition techniques on this album – especially in the horn section arrangements.
Of course these pieces are not performed by a full-scale acoustic ensemble: Morgan carefully reconstructs the enhanced deterioration with his samples and use of electronics.

There’s another resemblance to Koyaanisqatsi: “a bleak notion that we humans don’t have much to say in how it all turns out”.
At the time of writing the music for Monument Builders, “the life-and death battles of close friends and family forced Morgan to examine his own feelings on mortality”.
But, like the film, at the same time the album offers solace and leaves room for exploration and surprise.

Library Tapes Europe


Europe, She Loves is the original soundtrack for a the same-titled movie by Jan Gassman.
‘Europe on the verge of social and economic change. A close up into the shaken vision of 4 couples, daily struggles, fights, kids, sex and passion. A movie about the politics of love.”

In the more than ten years history of Library Tapes, this is David Wenngren‘s first non-piano record. I haven’t seem the movie (yet), but the music seems to capture the intimacy of the subject. Credits for that go to Wenngren himself, of course, but also to the sensitive cello parts played by Julia Kent.

Hearing this soundtrack definitely makes me want to check out the movie, exploring “in semi-documentary intimacy the sensitivities of a generation of twentysomethings in Europe”.

Also on Spotify

In the Dead Of Night


Since this is one of those luscious packed Fluid Audio releases, the physical release has of course sold out long ago. But, thanks to our digital age, the download version remains available.
And is definitely worth checking out without the spectacular package, just for the music it contains.

Leonardo Rosado needed to break away from his musical routines, which ‘locked himself in his own idiosyncrasies’. In Aaron Martin he found ‘a soloist with a deep soul to guide my feelings towards something different, something that breaks me away from myself, without betraying who I am.”

When the basic tracks were ready for Aaron Martin to join in, they had no titles that might suggest a direction. 
completed the tracks, his cello a perfect match for Rosado’s soundscapes. Only when the recording was complete, the titles revealed itself: ‘a poem formed itself magically’.

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Tuxedomoon & CWNN; Goldmund; Library Tapes; Frans Friederich


Blue Velvet Revisited

In 1985, filmmaker Peter Braatz had three months of unrestricted behind-the-scenes access on the set for David Lynch‘s Blue VelvetThe resulting film, No Frank in Lumberton,  was released in 1988 but there were only very limited screenings. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the movie release, and because of the fact that 70% of the footage that was collected on the set was ever used, it got a complete reworking into Blue Velvet Revisited. 

This alone is interesting enough for fans of David Lynch. But the soundtrack for this new edition deserves some special attention, too.
It contains all new work created by ‘post-punk chamber music pioneers’ Tuxedomoon together with ‘electronic balladeers’ Cult With No Name – with a guest performance by John Foxx on the track Lincoln Street.
A very atmospheric set that crosses many genres but remains true to the ‘Lynchian’ atmosphere.

“Fusing elements of contemporary classical to jazz to ambient electronica to krautrock, but never fully surrendering to any, Tuxedomoon and Cult With No Name have produced a suite that is as unique as it is representative of both artists.”

Also on Spotify

Tuxedomoon & Cult With No Name – Lumberton

Goldmund - Sometimes

Composer Keith Kenniff‘s  music can be found under quite some different aliases, each with a different musical style. Not only under his own name, or with his wife Holly as Mint Julep, but also as Helios (ambient/electronic music blended with acoustical instruments),  or as Goldmund.
Goldmund is the name he uses for his post-classical music with the piano as the main instrument: “quiet dynamics consisting of mostly short, minimal compositions”.

Usually recorded very close to the interior of the instrument, so that all sounds of the mechanism become part of the music. A beautiful natural piano sound, but often also embedded in further treatments  of the piano sound, combined with electronic effects and perfect production.
Sometimes is the sixth Goldmund album since 2005, and it’s another pearl in the collection.

Nowadays, there are quite a lot of artists presenting melancholic, romantic, quiet piano music, but Keith ‘Goldmund’ Kenniff is one of the originators of the genre, and it’s easy to hear why.

Also on Spotify


Library Tapes

Library Tapes  is David Wenngren solo, but often recording with other artists such as Nils Frahm, Danny Norbury, Sarah Kemp and Julia Kent.
On this new album, Julia Kent is prominently featured, her cello playing perfectly matching Wenngren‘s subtle piano/celeste arrangements.
Quiet, ‘post-classical’ chamber music, often with a somewhat sad melancholic touch – the cello is a melancholic instrument. But there are happier moments too – and sometimes both are combined in a single track such as “Tristesse/Escapism”.
Some tracks return in slightly different variations (Introduction,  A Summer By The Sea, Tristesse), enhancing the impression this music could have been the soundtrack of a contemplative romantic movie. 
(release date: february 26)

Library Tapes – Silhouettes


The Bandcamp collection of music of Frans ‘Recyclopedia’ Friederich keeps growing rapidly: an amazing collection of all kinds of unexpected styles (and all available as a free download – not even pay-what-you-like, but completely free!).
Friederich submitted his great track ‘St. Franciscus’  to the Ambientblog Anniversary Collectionand that inspired him to create this full album in the same vein.
‘Ambient’ should not be taken too literally here, since Friederich is a musician that always chooses his own path regardless of what contemporary artists do or what is ‘current or happening’. Which means that this is a different kind of ‘ambient’, indicating a quiet ‘musical’ collection gathered from a lot of musical influences. Some fragments borrowed from new-age, other parts from jazz, world or even mediaeval music – all blended in a unique and personal style – to amazing effect!
In the second half of the title track ‘Calendarium – Visions of Hildegard’, for example, you can almost envision Hildegard (von Bingen) rise up to heaven, and it’s hard to resist following her.

As said, Friederich’s collection is a fascinating box of surprises crossing almost every experimental genre thinkable.
(And it’s growing fast: at the time of writing Ambient #4 was already released too)
If you’re interested to hear something different (not ambient), I also advise checking out Sample Years #3 – Paris 2015” to hear what can be done with a sampler and a free, creative spirit.

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