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VVolk * Claudio F Baroni * Olivia Block

Olivia Block 132 Ranks

Se (In) De Bos


This is the third edition in the ongoing Book of Air project curated by Stijn and Bert Cools. The first release in this series was performed by the relatively small Fieldtone ensemble, while the second and third editions are performed by VVolk – a group of 18 improvisers with roots in jazz and classical music. Vvolk may very well be ‘the only ambient orchestra in the world’: (they also perform all night ‘laying down concerts’).

It’s incredible to hear such a large group of improvisers play so restrained, each member playing his/her part but no one claiming the lead, although the instrumental setting constantly shifts and there’s a change in dynamics like ebb and flow.

Vvolk investigates performing and improvising music, in close relation to present time; what are the possibilities in playing music, when changes in this music pass by unnoticed? How do we as musicians relate to the running time of a performance? This clearly challenges the improvising musicians, and makes audience and performers discover new territories in collective improvisation.”



If you don’t listen carefully, you might get the impression the complete orchestra suffers from narcolepsy – only to be kept awake by the slow but throbbing pulse of the three interwoven bass lines that the (somewhat enigmatic) album title Se (In) De Bos seems to refer to. But that would deny the adventurous beauty of this composition.
There is actually very múch happening in this 60 minute piece , but it requires attentive listening to recognise the constant change ‘inspired by the fluctuating objectivity of our daily observations’.



Claudio F. Baroni is a composer from Argentina, where he studied piano and sonology. In 1997 he moved to the Netherlands, studying composition at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. His website presents an extensive work listbut for those not familiar with his work this release on Unsounds is a great introduction.

Motum (meaning ‘motion’) presents three different works performed by different ensembles.

In Circles II
in four movements of 8 minutes each, is performed by Ensemble Modelo62It is a piece ‘in a constant in-between state’. Reminiscent of Morton Feldman and Louis Andriessen’s ‘De Tijd’, the stretched chords are accentuated by various kinds of percussion instruments. The piece is defying the awareness of time, ‘through subtle shifts in timbre and register, tiny variations in intonation of common pitches [that] start acting between the instruments, along with the acoustic effects of the intervals and overtones themselves’.

Solo VIII-Airis performed by Ezequiel Menalled (artistic director of Modelo62, also from Argentina) and Claudio Baroni on organ. This composition is dedicated to Phil Niblock which may give an indication of what to expect.
“Pedals and manual keys are pressed down during the piece, but it’s not quite notes we are hearing. Instead the piece consists of registration changes, the knobs for registers being manipulated very slowly, and never fully pulled out. The result is a subdued, unpredictable, fluctuating sonority, an almost-organ, the sound of a complete choir of partial voices, with sometimes hints of a tone emerging.”
The impressive and overwhelming sound of the church organ, the breathing organism and the thundering low registers, is haunting, if not downright scary – especially when played at an appropriate volume.

With its 12 minutes and 13 seconds, Perpetuo Motum(performed by Quartetto Prometeo) is the shortest composition in this collection even though it it dedicated to ‘perpetual motion’. Compared to the previous two it is also the most demanding piece of the album.
“Whenever a player plays, it is on two strings: one stable note on an open string, and one slow glissando on a neighboring string. The result is a fascinating superimposition of two incommensurate musical logics. On the one hand, drone harmonies based on open fifths; on the other hand, a Xenakis-like world of pure glissando counterpoint, not based on harmony at all.”

Olivia Block 132 Ranks

OLIVIA BLOCK – 132 RANKS  Also on Spotify

Some of the works above may be be described as ‘minimalist’ to some extent. But perhaps they are ‘maximalist’ compared to Olivia Block‘s 132 Ranks, a sound installation for six speakers playing white noise, sine tones and pre-recorded organ sounds, combined with live performance on the enormous Skinner organ at the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel in Chicago. (However: there is an interesting similarity with Baroni’s ‘Solo VIII-Air’ mentioned above).

“The piece included both the lowest pedal notes, felt in the body, as well as the highest bell tones, played at extreme dynamic levels. At times, sounds were isolated in discrete locations to emphasise the chapel’s shape.”

It must have been an impressive performance. A church organ is one of the very few instruments that cannot be disconnected from its environment. In fact, the entire building it is located in is a part of the ‘instrument’. An organ like this, in an environment like this,  is impressive enough in itself, but even more when combined with a multichannel surround installation where the audience can walk freely, noticing ‘how the acoustics, materials and shape of the space altered the live and recorded organ sounds as Block performed.’

The live recording of Olivia Block‘s performance inevitably includes the sound of the audience moving around through the space. In some weird way this gives extra depth to the result. You can almost hear how small and insignificant people are compared to the large setting and the massive and inescapable sound of the Skinner organ.

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DreamScenes – October 2018

DreamScenes CZ

“No hay banda – there is no band
This is all a tape recording…
It is all recorded
No hay banda
It is all a tape
It is – an illusion
(Silencio scene from Mulholland Drive, 2001)


  • 00:00 DreamScenes – Intro (Susanna)
  • 00:42 Katharina Ernst – X-06
    Extrametric, 2018, Ventil Records 
  • 02:54 Ital Tek – Adrift
    Bodied, 2018, Planet MU
  • 05:54 Low – The Son, The Sun
    Double Negative, 2018, Sub Pop
  • 08:17 Murcof – Chapitre VI
    Lost In Time, 2018, Glacial Movements
  • 11:03 Jóhann Jóhannsson – Horns of Abraxas
    Mandy OST, 2018, Lakeshore Records/Invada
  • 12:16 Maria W. Horn – Atropa
    Kontrapoetik, 2018, Portal Editions/XKatedral
  • 14:44 Dakota Suite, Dag Rosenqvist, Emanuele Errante – De Ziekte van Emile
    What Matters Most, 2018, Karaoke Kalk
  • 17:55 Houston Chamber Choir – John Cage: Five (Edit)
    Rothko Chapel, 2015, ECM Records
  • 20:36 Rutger Zuydervelt – Stay Tuned Laznia
    Various Artists: In Progress Vol. III, 2018, Gdansk
  • 24:00 Ensemble Modelo62 – Claudio F. Baroni: In Circles II (Mov.I)
    Motum, 2018, UNSounds
  • 32:55 Murcof – Chapitre N (Piste Audio Exclusive Sur GM)
    Lost In Time, 2018, Glacial Movements
  • 35:42 Angelo Badalamenti – ‘Silencio (No Hay Banda)’ sequence from Mulholland Drive
    Mulholland Drive, 2001, Milan
  • 38:44 Michel Banabila – Transform
    Everywhere Else Is Just Right Here, 2018, Tapu Records
  • 44:56 Minco Eggersman, Theodoor Borger, Mathias Eick – Tangible
    Unifony, 2018, Butler
  • 46:18 Jóhann Jóhannsson, BJ Nilsen – I Need A Fix
    I Am Here, 2014/2018, Ash International
  • 47:50 Arve Henriksen, Eivind Aarset, Jan Bang – The Swans Bend Their Necks Backward To See God
    The Heights Of The Reed, 2018, Rune Grammofon
  • 53:40 Low – Always Up
    Double Negative, 2018, Sub Pop 
  • 58:37 DreamScenes – Outro (Dean Hurley)

Play this edition on-demand from the Concertzender website.

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DreamScenes – September 2018

DreamScenes CZ

“Go to sleep pretty baby
Go to sleep pretty baby
You and me and the devil makes three
Don’t need no other lovin baby

Go to sleep little baby
Go to sleep little baby
Come and lay your bones on the alabaster stones
And be my ever lovin baby”


  • 00:00 DreamScenes – Intro (Susanna+ Go To Sleep)
  • 01:16 Masayoshi Fujita – Harp (edit)
    Book Of Life, 2018, Erased Tapes
  •  06:14 Merope – Seng Ge
    Naktės, 2018, Granvat
  • 09:57 Mike Lazarev & Arovane – Footsteps
    Footsteps, 2018, Moderna Records
  • 12:01 Hilde Marie Holsen – Orpiment
    Lazuli, 2018, Hubro Music
  • 14:40 Trondheim Voices & Asle Karstad – Below  Ritual #4
    Rooms & Rituals, 2018, Grappa
  • 16:55 Julius Aglinskas – …
    Zoom in 12: New Art Music from Lithuania, 2018, Music Information Centre Lithuania
  • 25:14 Norvik – Second Spring
    Messages to No One, 2018, self-released
  • 28:30 Simon McCorry – A Slight Return
    Song Lines, 2018, Naviar
  • 32:01 Hibernis – Hibernis Bells (edit)
    So What, 2018, Serein
  • 36:38 Peppermoth – Glacial
    Glimmer Tide, 2018, Six Degrees Records
  • 39:21 Merope – Naktės
    Naktės, 2018, Granvat
  • 44:21 BJ Nilsen – Table Of Hours
    Focus Intensity Power, 2018, Moving Furniture Records
  • 48:41 Jake Muir – Lanterns Below
    Lady’s Mantle, 2018, Sferic
  • 52.42 The Prairie Lines – Echo Collapse
    Today Leap And Stop Time, 2018, Eilean Records
  • 55:41 Erland Cooper & William Doyle – Migration III (fragment)
    Murmuration, 2018, self-released
  • 58:14 DreamScenes – Outro (Go To Sleep + Dean Hurley)

Play this edition on-demand from the Concertzender website.

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Aaron Martin – Touch Dissolves / Adam

Touch Dissolves

Touch Dissolves


For each new release, the french label IIKKI matches a visual artist with a composer. The resulting art is always published as a combined hardcover book and disc (vinyl or CD). So the most obvious thing to do is to listen and watch both together and find out what the relation is between the music and the images. But, according to IIKKI, the book can be also watched alone, and the disc can be also listened to alone. So the parts (book, discs, download) can also be obtained separately.

For their sixth edition, the music is created by Aaron Martin, and the photography by Yusuf Sevinçli. As usual, pictures speak louder than words so I can best leave it to this visual introduction:



I cannot really tell if this Touch Dissolves is a ‘collaboration’ in the sense that both artists worked together in creating this release. I assume that Sevinçli’s photos already existed, and that they helped inspire Aaron Martin to create the music to go with them. But either way, the result is a dialogue: it becomes a dialogue the moment you listen and watch together.

As always, Martin‘s cello arrangements are very cinematic, and they fit the black and white pictures perfectly. The music is a rewarding listen on its own, too, as is watching the pictures.
But – as with all IIKKI releases – the true ‘added value’ lies in combining both.



And since we’re talking about the music of Aaron Martin, I might as well suggest to check out this soundtrack for William Armstrong’s short film Adam too. It’s a very short soundtrack: the seven parts take only seven-and-a-half minute and that includes two bonus tracks.
In fact I prefer to think of this set of fragments as one single track, since basically the parts are all variations on the main theme. In this way, Adam  is a demonstration of Aaron Martin‘s skill for writing catchy soundtrack themes.

Of course, this is not a full album – and it is priced accordingly: it is a Name-Your-Price download.
And – by the way: the short movie by William Armstrong, a documentary about the life-changing diagnosis of Adam Voigt and how he dealt with it can be seen below and downloaded for free from Vimeo



“You know every wave is different, and it’s up to you to choose how you wanna ride it.”


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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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DreamScenes – June 2018

DreamScenes CZ

Not home
So don’t try to call
Don’t come to see me
I’m not here

(Anne Garner – Not Home)



  • 00:00 DreamScenes – Intro (Susanna)
  • 00:45 Danny Mulhern – Perpetual Motion
    Safe House, 2018, 1631 Recordings
  • 02:52 Markus Guentner – Refraction (with Julia Kent)
    Empire, 2018, A Strangely Isolated Place
  • 11:10 J. Peter Schwalm – Singlis
    How We Fall, 2018, RareNoise
  • 15:53 Anne Garner – Not Home (Porya Hatami Remix)
    Not Home single, 2018, Slowcraft
  • 22:29 Sonologyst – NASA Classified Tapes
    Silencers – The Conspiracy Theory Dossiers, 2018, Cold Spring
  • 24:17 Ben Lukas Boysen – Pending
    1+1=x, 2018, Erased Tapes
  • 28:31 Hackedepicciotto – Emerald Cenote
    Joy, 2018, Potomak
  • 33:36 Ben McElroy – Ink Drunk
    The Word Cricket Made Her Happy, 2018, Eilean Records
  • 36:02 Emerge – Substance
    Re:Flections Sound Art Festival 20 07 18, 2018, Attenuation Circuit
  • 39:54 Robert Honstein – Economy Of Means – Chorale
    An Economy Of Means, 2018, New Focus Recordings
  • 44:59 Andrew Sherwell – A Mesultane’s Flight
    Orthodox Tales, 2018, Whitelabrecs
  • 49:24 Capac – Lyke-Wake Dirge
    Through The Dread Waste, 2018, self-released (Bandcamp)
  • 54:00 Jóhann Jóhannsson – The Furious Sea Of Fogs And Squalls
    The Mercy (Soundtrack), 2018, Deutsche Grammophon
  • 54:59 Philipp Rumsch – Interlude
    Reflections, 2018, Denovali
  • 56:11 Pink Fluid – Dream One
    Pipe Dreams, 2017, Horisontal Mambo
  • 59:00 DreamScenes – Outro (Dean Hurley)

Play this edition on-demand from the Concertzender website.

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From The Mouth Of The Sun * Skodvin/Rauelsson

Sleep Stations

Sleep Stations


With a running time of just over 20 minutes, this cassette/download EP release feels a bit like it could have been a preview of a forthcoming album. Or as an extra bonus addition to their 2017 Hymn Binding release. It is, in a way, since the pieces on Sleep Stations were composed during the same sessions as Hymn Binding and the Menashe soundtrack recording.

Of course, beauty is not measured in duration. In these 20 minutes, FTMOTS tell a beautiful story, proving that “a collection of music can still be simple yet deeply affecting, without being overwrought and excessive.”

The cassette edition is part of Lost Tribe Sound‘s Dead West Tape series, focusing on music built for exploring and soundtracking your environment, whether you’re deep in the middle of lush woodlands, or just laying back at home with rested eyes.

A Score For Darling


For Erik K. Skodvin as well as Rauelsson (Raúl Pastor Medall) this is the ‘debut on the big screen’: neither of them have created a full length soundtrack before. They were invited to work together on the score for Danish director Brigitte Staermose‘s film Darling“.
The album presents 15 tracks in 34 minutes – so the average track length is around two minutes… which proves to be enough to create ‘fragments of moods not afraid of pushing the emotional content to the max.’
Not all tracks were used in the movie: the album also includes some of the outtakes that were written for it.

Instrumentation includes church organs, synths, guitar amp violation, electro-acoustics, piano and more, and can vary from post-classical scenes to more haunting electronics (as in The Deep). The beautiful orchestral sound is completed with Christoph Berg and Anne Müller playing violin and cello.
Otto A. Totland (Skodvin’s partner in Deaf Center) also contributes in the closing piece called Breathe, also featuring vocals by Katinka Fogh Vindelev (We like We).

A Score for Darling is released on vinyl as well as a digital download. There is no CD version.



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Clarice Jensen * Joana Gama & Lúis Fernandes * Pitch & Splitter Orchestra

Clarice Jensen

Clarice Jensen


Clarice Jensen is not the first and certainly not the only person that “expands and confuses the familiar sound of solo cello through the use of effect pedals, multi-tracking, and tape loops recorded at variable speed”. But when the artistic director of the  American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME) releases her debut album on the Miasmah label, extra attention is required. Especially when that album opens with a piece composed in collaboration with Jóhann Jóhannsson, with whom she collaborated and toured from 2009 until his death in 2018.

Her music is not about displaying virtuosity, but about restraint – “to fill the void with what [the listeners] find in their center of stillness” – which of course is a different kind of virtuosity in itself.

bc (the track composed with Jóhansson) is a relatively ‘simple’ piece displaying “the startling effect subtle changes have on conventional elements across many repetitions, employing the simple devices of a two-octave c-major scale and a three-chord loop.” It is followed by Cello Constellations, written for Jensen by Michael Harrison, scored for solo cello and 25 multi-tracked cellos and sine tones.

The second half of the album contains the two-part title track For This From That Will Be Filled, composed by Clarice Jensen herself, soliciting ‘both meditation and disorientation’ in using drones, long loops and the sounds of New York’s Grand Central Terminal accompanying the processed cello.

The music on this album is originally written for an audio-visual live performance with Jonathan Turner, stills of which are included in the album artwork. Excerpts of Jonathan Turner‘s videos for these performances can be found on his VIMEO page.

Gama - Fernandes


It starts with a knock. A kind of ‘Poltergeist’ knock, with increasing reverb. Immediately the atmosphere is as eerie as the track title “Neither Flesh Nor Fleshless”. From there, ‘the music swells and breaths’ , with ‘atmospheric layers of strings, percussion and horns’.
It is the striking start of At The Still Point Of The Turning World, the album that got its title from T.S. Eliot’s poem Burnt Norton. The opening track seamlessly flows into Perpetual Possibility, which introduces the dialogue between piano and electronics. the atmosphere slightly changes but won’t loosen its grip on the listener.

“It is a record of restless motion, lilting and pulsing with a sense of gentle determination. Born out of a period of mutual loss, the works carry a bittersweet sentiment. Bitter in the
sense of loss; sweet in the sense of lingering memory and influences recognised of those departed.”

Joana Gama, Portuguese classically trained pianist and researcher, and Luís Fernandes,  electronic music artist also known as Astroboy, met in 2012, and have released work as Quest in 2014. They have also made the soundtracks for a number of prize-winning short films. At The Still Point Of The Turning World was commissioned for the Westway Lab Festival 2017.

Exploring “the timbral connections between piano and electronics”, combined with José Alberto Gomes’ orchestral arrangements performed by Orquestra de Guimarães, results in a captivating spectrum of contemporary classical music. Or New Music. Or Post-classical electronics.
Oh well, words seem to fail me here.
Never mind, just listen to the way the atmosphere slowly evolves from the eerie opening chords to the completely different atmosphere of Lucid Stillness and Shaft Of Sunlight. 
You’ll be amazed.


Drones are often performed by single or just a few instruments, electronic or acoustic. It’s not often a drone piece is performed by a full orchestra (unless, perhaps in the moments before a performance starts, when the orchestra tunes their instruments).
The Pitch quartet teams up with the 19-person Splitter Orchestra to perform the 60 minute Frozen Orchestra (Splitter) on a variety of acoustic instruments combined with electronics, turntables, oscillators and reel to reel tape machines.

Splitter Orchester

The title for this piece could hardly have been chosen better. The frozen piece feels like the musical equivalent of a movie still. But this does nót mean that nothing changes for 60 minutes, it changes in the same way the the ice caps on the earth’s North and Sound pole change: slowly. Very slowly.
” ‘Frozen’ indicates a very slowly moving field of harmonic relationships consisting of so-called pitch sets, which are augmented by noise sets, that is, nonperiodic sounds organized in equivalent relationships. The score guides the group through various defined states of frozen surfaces where each player makes individual choices from a set of intervals or noises and thus constantly shifts harmonic weight and textural quality.”

Around 25 minutes into the piece, the orchestra retreats and environmental recordings and electronic sounds take the stage. The sound spectrum is somehow turned inside out – without realising it the listener has been transferred to a different universe. When the orchestra returns, it is hard to tell the difference between the acoustic and the electronic sounds.

A performance like this may not be to everyone’s liking. But once you’re in the right – frozen – state of mind the effect is incredible. When the music stops, it’s hard to tell if it lasted 60 seconds, 60 minutes or maybe even 60 years.

[ambientblog edit]

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Christina Vantzou * Gray Acres

Vantzou No.4

Vantzou No.4CHRISTINA VANTZOU – NO. 4   Also on Spotify

No. 4 continues Christina Vantzou‘s exploration of ‘ambient classical minimalism’ that started in 2011. Three years have passed since the release of No. 3, taking her time to determine the direction she wanted to take with this album: ‘focusing particular attention on the effects of the recordings on the body, and of “directing sound perception into an inner space”‘.
Working with artists like Steve Hauschildt, John Also Bennett, Clarice Jensen (among others), Vantzou does not simply act as the center-stage composer and performer, but channels her ideas into a process of ‘prepared sponteneity’: “having plenty of ideas ready to explore going into the session, but with enough time to depart from those ideas and see what happens.”
It definitely must take self-assurance to be able to loosen control and let other musicians (and technicians) add or delete elements in the end result, which becomes more of a collaborative effort than a personal solo album.

Still, No. 4 bears all the marks of Christina Vantzou‘s signature: ‘a fragile synthesis of contemplative drift, heady silences, and muted dissonance.’ At the same time it is not simply a continuation of the previous No. 1, 2 and 3. It’s as if the music drifts deeper and deeper into the subconscious, slowly becoming more and more ‘immersive and immaterial’, gradually ‘loosening time’ until nothing else exists but ‘hushed drones and delicate gestures eliding in the periphery of the mix’.

Like with her previous releases, there will probably be a No. 4 Remixes in the (near) future. Definitely a pleasure to look forward to, but no need to anticipate this too much: for now we can simply enjoy what is here and what is now.
For now, No. 4 deserves our undivided attention.

Gray Acres

GRAY ACRES – GRAY ACRES  Also on Spotify

Gray Acres is the self-titled debut album of the new musical project of Andrew and Michael Tasselmeyeralso known as core members of Hotel Neon and The Sound Of Rescue. With this new project, they seek “beauty and stillness”, which results in a sound that is even softer and more dreamlike than their work as Hotel Neon.

Layering “emotional textures of immersive drones, walls of effected guitar swells, subtle piano and field recordings”, their album is a textbook example of ‘contemporary’ ambient music: it’s a pleasure to drift away in its beautiful landscapes, while at the same time there’s enough happening for dedicated listening.
Or, to quote the Godfather of Ambient music Brian Eno: “as ignorable as it is interesting”.

The CD-version comes in two different editions: the deluxe edition includes three extra tracks that are not on the standard CD edition and in the digital download.

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Swoop And Cross * Overshift * Ed Carlsen

Elusive Frames

Swoop and Cross


Stories of Disintegration ‘s carefully handcrafted special edition on Time Released Sound (TRS) is one of those releases that you probably read about but were always too late to order… But TRS are kind enough to always add a standard vinyl edition too, as well as a digital download version. (But unfortunately nó standard CD-version!)

Swoop And Cross is London based Portuguese composer/musician/multi-instrumentalist Ruben Vale, and as far as I know this is his very first release. And right from the opening track, the Nils Frahm-like structured thirteen-minute  St.No, you know that this is a release to cherish. It’s a bit early in the year, I know, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this one popped up in many end-of-year-lists. Because of its bright sound, its beautiful arrangements, and possibly also because of its shameless romanticism.

‘Modern-classical’ piano music may be an overcrowded genre that could collapse from its own abundance. But still it feels as if Ruben ‘Swoop and Cross’ Vale  opens up the windows to enjoy the bright light and let in some fresh air.



With 30 releases in two years of its existence, Whitelabrecs  is constantly expanding its already impressive track record. This 30th release is a four-track (30 minute) album by Overshift (further details unknown), a DJ/Producer who has released various productions on different labels. None of which I am familiar with, but I assume they were more aimed to the dance floor than this album, which focuses on exploring ambient textures with an occasional hint of rhythm .

“Controlled randomness”,  according to the liner notes:
“Subtle background textures are carved from tape and vinyl noise. Random modular sequences and patches are prepared to compose a general melody and in some cases, percussive and rhythmic elements are developed. Once the basic building blocks are in place, slight variations are applied over a four to eight bar loop. From here, dozens and dozens of layers can be added from items such as field recordings, old vinyl records, textures, rhythms, but it is also not uncommon for there to be considerably less.”

Elusive Frames


Inspired by live shows of Steven Wilson and Nils Frahm in 2015, Ed Carlsen decided “music was the way to go”.  Playing music wasn’t new to him: he has been playing guitar from when he was 6 years old, but playing the piano was:
“Instead of learning through the study of other artists, I decided to follow a different approach that led me to acquire the instrument technique by composing my own songs.”
He’s a quick learner, obviously, because his debut release The Journey Tapes was released in 2016 on Moderna Records – as is this second album Elusive Frames.

Carlsen plays piano, guitars and synth and is accompanied by a string trio (violin, viola, cello) on some tracks. The quartet presents romantic/melancholic compositions where the acoustic instruments are subtly merged with unobtrusive electronic effects.
It’s a beautiful set of ‘sunday morning music’ compositions, albeit maybe a bit too short for a full CD-release: the seven tracks count up to only 24 minutes running time.
But, as they say: less is more…. It’s better to have a short EP set with beautiful work, than to fill it up to the max with less interesting work.

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