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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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Matthew Florianz * Max Corbacho * Robert Scott Thompson




I have been a dedicated follower of Matthew Florianz‘s music ever since his 2001 releases Molenstraat and Grijsgebied, when his alias was still Liquid Morphine.
In these 15+ years, there has been a steady stream of album releases, each exploring an ambient style, most of them connected to a specific place, environment, where Florianz lived or had lived.

Apart from releasing his own albums, Florianz is a professional game sound designer. He has worked on  award-winning game titles like Jurrasic World Evolution, Planet Coaster, Elite: Dangerous and of course Spellborn (remember these two compilation mixes of the music of Spellborn?). He still works with the same clear vision of how he wants his music to sound, but at the same time his extensive professional experience in creating sound atmospheres and ambience can be heard in his musical development – especially in his latest release Onontgonnen.

‘Onontgonnen’ is a dutch word best translated with unexplored, but also with uncharted or maybe even uncultivated Instead of relating directly to an identifiable place on the map (like Molenstraat, Maalbeek), it is as if Florianz creates his own world completely from scratch. Starting with almost nothing; after all it is yet uncharted. A gentle, barely audible drone, carefully adding different musical elements and field recordings, slowly unfolding different views of a new world.

What struck me on this album was its complete unhurriedness, the  way it made me lose all sense of time. It feels as if the 60 minutes of Onontgonnen comprises a history of thousands of years.  And yes – that  feeling of timelessness is a quality of true ambient music. There are many great albums in Florianz’ discography, but with its harmonious balance this is one of his very best!

Source of Present


This 73 minute Max Corbacho album featuring six tracks of various lengths starts with the 23 minute The Beginning Of Remembering … and you’ll immediately begin to remember what immersive ambient soundscapes like:
“…the music moves slowly as cosmic, nebulous, expansive stratums, orbiting into the boundaries of consciousness.”
This majestic opener is followed by three shorter tracks, before the album is closed with two full LP-side length  tracks: Source Of Present and On This Journey.

No need to buy yourself a flotation tank – just turn down the lights and play this album on the right volume and you’ll immediately float away on the serene soundscapes. Soundscapes that may make you feel small and insignificant, by the way, because of their cosmic proportions.

“Gradually, this music manages to install us in a mental zone only established in the present moment, like a disconnection from all the noise and mental chatter that surrounds us in daily life.”


Self-described as a ‘musical alchemist’, Robert Scott Thompson combines electroacoustic, contemporary instrumental and avant-garde music ever since 1976, naming Chopin, Satie, Stockhausen, Varèse, Cage, Bowie and Eno as his greatest inspirators. He runs his own label, Acourant Recordshome to different artists but also for his own (rather high) output (though it seems the label website is not updated since september 2016: later activities have been transferred to Bandcamp).
Robert Scott Thompson is one of those artists that seem to breathe music: his Bandcamp catalogue presents  83 album titles! (Discogs lists only 33 of these, so there’s some work to do there..)

On Alphabet Of The Trees,  presents eight dreamy and mysterious ‘classic ambient’ soundscapes,
Voice samples play a particularly important role on the tracks on the first half of this album. Sometimes up-front, sometimes hidden away, but ever-present angelic choirs, or like the spirits of the trees this album is dedicated to.
Most of the album is quite comforting (with titles like ‘Travelling In Dreams’ you’ll probably know what to expect), but with the Twin-Peaks-like atmosphere in Nights, Darkest To Fall the album ends in a relatively dark and ominous mood.

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Pausal * Max Corbacho * Siddharta Barnhoorn

Pausal - Avifaunal

Pausal - Avifaunal

PAUSAL – AVIFAUNAL  Also on Spotify

The Dronarivm label never ceases to amaze with their constant stream of great album releases. 
is a duo featuring Alex Smalley (aka Olan Mill) and Simon Bainton. Avifaunal is not their first album: the duo have considerable experience in various projects and releases on various labels, but it’s their first release for Dronarivm. 

The album starts with the three-part Murmuration, which came to life from experimenting  and improvising with a new equipment setup including looped turntable, voice microphones and synths. The three other tracks were also edited and assembled from parts of the same recording sessions.
Renting a local hall for their sessions provided the opportunity to work at far louder volumes than usual (check Murmuration III).
But that does not mean this is just a lot of noisy  ‘power ambient’: it is as subtle and sensual as usual.
Music with as many colours as on the cover image.

Max Corbacho - Nocturnes


If you read the title you know this is night music – music about the night, to play at night. “The magic time in which shadows blur shapes, colors and along with silence and stillness induces a state of special perception.”

Inspired by several sessions of night photography in the last years, Max Corbacho creates three tracks: Dark Sky Opening with a full-album length of 52 minutes (divided in three parts), and Stellar Time and Ghost of the Moon each around 10 minutes.

This is classic, ‘spacey’ ambient, multi-layered free-flowing synth pads along the vein of Robert Rich/Steve Roach. Music to drift away by, imagining “silence, stillness, the twinkling light of the stars and the sweet fragrance of thyme that impregnates everything in these regions of Aragon in Spain”, where Corbacho had his inspiring photography sessions.

Nocturnes is the first of a trilogy dedicated to “a new world, hidden before the sunset”.

Barnhoon Structures


Siddharta Barnhoorn may perhaps not be a familiar name to you, yet he can boast an impressive catalogue with over 70 musical scores for films, documentaries, commercials and more. He also scored the music for the games Antichamber and Out There.

Apart from his soundtrack works, he previously released Pillars of Lightand now his second full album: Structures of Light – “a personal project where I reconnect with my love for creating deep ambient music.”
And deep ambient music it is: classic unhurried, immersive ambient, created using vintage analog synths and a eurorack synthesizer. Compositions varying in length from around four up to 21 minutes, but all sharing the warm, somewhat ‘retro’ sound.

There’s a remarkable link to the Max Corbacho album mentioned above, in sound as well as in concept:  this album emerged from “evening walks in the dunes and late night recording sessions in the studio.”

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Pinkcourtesyphone; Triac; Chelidon Frame; Max Corbacho

Future Terrain

Three Themes

“Music for wine time”… which, according to the titles of the first two tracks Afternoon Theme and Evening Theme, covers the afternoon as well as the eveningBoth themes are extended (23 minute) and revised versions of work from 1997.
The third track 62000 Valentines (envelope version) is the extended version of a track that previously appeared on A Ravishment of Mirror.
The first two tracks are perfect if you’re in a ‘Basinski state of mind’: endless loops of a single simple phrase, showly shifting the background into the foreground, almost unnoticeably changing – like the light during wine time.
62000 Valentines 
is different: the sound of a vinyl runout-groove gradually gets accompanied by a very deep (Thomas Köner-like) drone background that slowly becomes unavoidable and all-encompassing.

Also on Spotify

Discogs lists a few acts under the same name – in a diversity of musical fields – , but this particular Triac refers to the Italian trio consisting of Rossano Polidoro (laptop, also known from TU M’), Marco Seracini (piano, synth) and Augusto Tatone (electric bass).
Days is their second album, and their debut on the Line label.
Their work explores “the relations between sound/space atmosheres and natural elements” – in this particular case by means of “dazzling yet smooth distant drones that almost hover in the air. The sound of the slowest moving picture and subtle flickering lights beyond it”.
Starting out with a ‘classic’ drone (almost like the drone of an Indian raga) the next days explores different drone variations, some lighter (Day Three), some darker (Day Six) – but without losing the reassuring calmness of pure timeless beauty.

Also on Spotify

Chelidon Frame
The first album by Alessio Premoli (Chelidon Frame) (exploring “sounds, noises, drones and minimalism, from an ambient point of view”) shows an interesting diversity in sound: from incorporating musique concrete to ‘circular guitar riffs’ and electronic drums and speech manipulations in ‘Cosmic Hypnosis’. His contributions for IFAR (Institute for Alien Research) “question some of the modern visions on concrete music”.
The longest track (11 min) on this free download album is Antarctica: “The white loneliness of one of the last deserts approached through the waves of a deep blue ocean.”. This particular track was chosen as part of a ‘sonic ambulation project’ “” in the 2014 fifth Marrakech Biennale: it was broadcast inside the city taxis “to give the opportunity to experiment a different view of the sonic ambient of the city.”
Remembering my brief experience with Marrakech taxis, that must’ve been quite some alienation experience!

Also on Spotify

Future Terrain
“Ultra low, extended bass tones and organ-like massive sound waves flowing in a continuous, dark, pitch black loop”.
Future Terrain is offered as a Name Your Price download, but only for a limited time. It was created to listen at a low (‘subliminal’) level, but things may possibly start to shake uncontrollably when you play it loud.

Splendid Labyrinths

The 58 minute futuristic sci-fi landscape was created as a ‘by-product’ – parallel emerging tracks – at the sessions for Corbacho‘s  new full album Splendid Labyrinthswhich will see its release on May 15.
The six long tracks of Splendid Labyrinths (73 minutes) are considerably less dark than Future Terrain, but the stretched layers of ‘space music synths’ are indeed a good place to immerse yourself in and get lost.
This is the follow up to 2012’s Ocean Inside, and continues Corbacho’s search for “new harmony structures and calm spaces”. 


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