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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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Autistici; Aidan Baker; David Cordero; Markus Guentner

El Rumor Del Oleaje

David Newman – also label owner of Audiobulb is a composer from Sheffield, UK, releasing his own work as Autistici – the name ‘represents this fascination with tiny sounds and the power they have to overwhelm the central sensory experience’.
Temporal Enhancement
, his eighth full CD release, presents six tracks with a wealthy variation of ‘broken sounds’ assembled into abstract ambient soundscapes.
‘A sonic exploration of the perception of time’.

“Temporal space in between each sound populates the narrative of present and past. The brain relies on memory to bring order and meaning to the sequence and to notice changes across the passage of time. […]
Autistici works on the premise that the true and final experience of any sound belongs in the mind’s ear of the listener.”

Also on Spotify

Aidan Baker - Ecliptic Plane

“As a solo artists, Aidan Baker explores the deconstructive sonic possibilities of the electric guitar as a primary sound source.”
Ecliptic Plane – the title referring to ‘the Sun’s apparent path or orbit around the Earth, as seen from a terrestrial perspective’ – is a live-to-2-track recording of ‘multi-layered guitar loops slowly evolving and gradually changing through the course of their repetition’.
There are six segments, all different in nature and expression – but they are sequenced seamlessly and so are best listened in one continuous session.
I was quite surprised to learn that this was a direct recording of a live-performance! It’s an impressive and beautiful set, exploring different ranges of sounds between subtle and massive – from calm to (almost) frightening.

El Rumor Del Oleaje

DAVID CORDERO – EL RUMOR DEL OLEAJE [release date: 15-01-16]
For El Rumor Del Oleaje (‘the rumor of the seas’), David Cordero travelled to the beaches between Bizkaia and Cadiz (from the North to the South of Spain), to record the different sounds of water. These sounds became the starting point of this album:
‘All of us confront the sea in different ways, being that not all of the waves are the same.’
Seas can be dangerous and frightening, but Cordero focuses on its healing effect: ‘the feeling of being at peace with myself and isolation. to render through these songs the healing impact the waves have on me when I face them.’
As a result, this is a very peaceful and ‘sunny’ album.

The sound of waves and water are the inspiration to subtle musical compositions, most for a full ensemble acoustic setting featuring piano, bass clarinet, french horn, double bass, (like La Caseriá – San Fernando) others (near the end of the album) for more synth oriented textures and loops (Gaztelugatze – Bermeo).
‘This album is an invitation to travel to the seashores and start the adventure of looking at the sea as if it were for the first time, surrendered to a lonely and magical fascination’


Theia is the name of the (hypothetical) planet that supposedly collided with Earth around 4.533 billion years ago – one assumption is that the debris gathered together around Earth to form the moon.
That’s a beautiful thematic starting point for Markus Guentner‘s newest album: a double (opaque) vinyl release on A Strangely Isolated Place.
“Drones build upon swathes of light, cut by an ever-present sense of fear. The distant shine of stars puncture a pitch-black canvas, as a force gathers momentum and intensifies”.
There are more than enough quiet moments, but as the album progresses the atmosphere gets darker and more ominous. But the sound palette remains subtle: it never becomes the ear-shattering noise you might have expected with a theme like that.
Rafael Anton Irisarri mastered the album, and also appears (as The Sight Below) on one track (Baryon). 

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