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Marconi Union * Steve Hauschildt * Orchestramaxfieldparrish

Instant Light

Tokyo +

MARCONI UNION – TOKYO +

Strictly spoken, this is not exactly a new album. Tokyo was originally released in 2009, but it was exclusively available in Germany in a very limited edition. For this re-release, the original music was revisited and some tracks (the ones with the ‘+’) were completely ‘reconfigured’ – which is not the same as ‘remixed’: new loops and parts were taken from the original stems and combined with improvised live playing, together with their live drummer Phil Hurst.

The newly added ‘plus’ versions are a welcome addition to the original album, offering some nice alternative views. But the original tracks also sound as if they were created recently: the pulsating techno beats, rhythmic pop-ambient may be more ‘pop’ than ‘ambient’, perhaps, but it’s definitely atmospheric .

The music on this album is inspired by images of Tokyo but has no intention to represent the reality or include “authentic” Japanese music:
“Neither of us had ever been to Tokyo and we realised that our entire conception of the city originated from films, TV and books. We liked this idea of creating music for a place that only existed in our minds”

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Steve Hauschildt

STEVE HAUSCHILDT – STRANDS

“I wanted to try and capture that moment in nature and society where life slowly re-emerges through desolation, so it has a layer op optimism looming underneath. The music represents this by seemingly decaying at times but then reforms and morphs in a fluid way back into its original state.”

Steve Hauschildt describes the music of his latest album, Strandshis fourth title for the Kranky label.
Like strands from a rope, the (eight) different tracks are separate units, but together they form a new organic whole. Hauschildt‘s spacey electronics meander from ambient soundscapes to modular sequencing and back again, shifting between soft sounds and harsher noises in a way that is symbolically depicted on the album’s cover.

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Instant Light  Midsummer's Night

ORCHESTRAMAXFIELDPARRISH – INSTANT LIGHT / A MIDSUMMER’S NIGHT

There has been quite a long gap between Mike ‘Orchestramaxfieldparrish’ Fazio’s  last release in 2010 (Crossing Of Shadows, which was in fact a remix from the 2007 release), but 2016 suddenly saw the simultaneous release of two titles.

One is called A Midsummer’s Night and features four abstract soundscapes created on a ‘rare 1936 Gibson L7 archtop with an antique mellophone’, a german lute guitar and a treated baby grand piano. Three string instruments ‘that sound nothing like you can possibly imagine them to sound after recording them through a series of unconventional effects.”

The other, Instant Light, is every bit as abstract, but its sound is very different. Here, the sound of processed treated electric guitars is mixes with field recordings, the bright sound of singing bowls and metals, and modular synthesis and electronics. Due to the instrumentation, it has a somewhat ‘brighter’ overall sound.
But in the end, both releases explore the same puzzling kind of landscapes.


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Marconi Union; Sequence 8; Amongst Myselves; Aquavoice; Looped Exodus – shortlist –

Sequence 8

In the Shortlist sections, I will mention the albums that I enjoyed listening to, but couldn’t find the time (or the right words) for a “full” review for.
Still, I definitely think they deserve your attention, with ór without extra words!

weightless

MARCONI UNION – WEIGHTLESS (AMBIENT TRANSMISSIONS VOL. 2)
This album is possibly one of the most succesful albums never released.
Its remarkable history started in 2011, when Marconi Union were commissioned to collaborate with a sound therapist from the British Academy of Sound Therapy and write a piece of ‘relaxing’ music which would be scientifically tested for it’s effectiveness. “Weightless” was tested by scientists at the Mindlab Institute and when their research was made public there was an instant and intense media reaction, with many newspapers, radio stations and television shows picking up on the claims that “Weightless” was “the most relaxing song, ever!”. One national newspaper even warned motorists not to listen to the track while driving. Weightless was even named as one of the “Inventions of the Year” in Time Magazine.”
Marconi Union never commented on any of these claims, not even when views on Youtube started to climb into over ten million (!) views. They just worked on different tracks, “all sonically linked, but each had it’s own character, much like the different faces of a geometrical shape.”
The six tracks are presented on this new album, which clearly don’t need any scientifical testing to prove its effective relaxation capabilities!


MARCONI UNION – WEIGHTLESS Part 4


Sequence 8

VARIOUS ARTISTS – SEQUENCE 8
[FREE Download]
The eighth -and last- edition of a massive series of download-only compilations – each of them containing over three hours of music. (So collect them all for a full 24 hour sequence of ambient-experimental electronics).
Compared to previous editions, the tracks on this Future Sequence compilation are relatively more calm, ‘focussed inward’. No less that 28 contributions on this album, with a lot of familiar names as well as new artists to be explored. Compilations like this are a highly recommended way to start exploring new artists, especially since it’s a free download for now (but probably won’t stay free forever).


Amongst Myselves - The Past cover
AMONGST MYSELVES – THE PAST IS ANOTHER COUNTRY
Amongst Myselves (Steve Roberts), has dedicated his work to all the classic ambient artists that inspired him since he first heard the works of groups like Tangerine Dream (at the time of “Atem” and “Alpha Centauri”).
His seventh full album release is dedicated to the work of Conrad Schnitzler.
Despite all references to the classic artists of ambient music, his music sounds far from ‘retro’. On the contrary, perhaps: “The Past Is Another Country” presents a great selection of dark soundscapes – “a new direction in composition which leaves more melodic pieces behind and explores more experimental landscapes.”


AMONGST MYSELVES – DARK PLACES, WINTER SHADOWS


Nocturne

AQUAVOICE – NOCTURNE
Cover and title promise music as dark as the night, which is precisely what Tadeusz Luczejko (Aquavoiceoffers. But “dark” does not necessarily mean ‘scary’:  “Nocturne is full of “dreamy, low-key and soothing ambient textures – songs a bit darker and colder than before where one can find inspirations taken from Scandinavian art.”


AQUAVOICE – NEBULOUS DAWN


Looped Exodus

LOOPED EXODUS – PRELUDE FOR REPEATMODUS
Self-released (“100% homemade + artwork”) by Geerard Labeur (Amsterdam) a.k.a. Looped Exodus. Nine untitled pieces full of contemplative electronics, recorded with lo-fi intimacy, that indeed work best when played in repeatmodus on a relatively low volume.

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