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Frans de Waard * Zeno van den Broek * Kassel Jaeger * Orphax Reframed

Orphax Reframed

Frans De Waard - Hot August Night

FRANS DE WAARD – HOT AUGUST NIGHT Also on Spotify

Perhaps, it’s a bit weird to talk about an album with a title like this, which was indeed released in August last year, in the middle of the winter season. But however, the music is a pleasure to listen to all year round, and especially in the cold of winter we long for the long and warm days of summer.

Frans de Waard is a Dutch pioneer who has been active in all kinds of experimental electronic music since 1984. Not only as a musician, but also as a label owner and reviewer for Vital Weekly, covering about every thinkable aspect of experimental music.

Hot August Night, released on Chihei Hatakeyama’s White Paddy Mountain label, was created in a sad period when his mother was terminally ill. It is basically an improvisation (or ‘tinkering’) on an iPad piano app, later transformed to this 45 minute piece of lo-fi ambient.
“It is not a work of sadness for me, but a celebration of both my wonderful parents and their support for my music over the years, even though they not always understood what it was about.”

The piece feels generative in nature, it could have been one of Brian Eno’s compositions, albeit that Frans de Waard‘s choices of sounds are less ’round’ than Eno’s, with considerable more distortion by design. Hot August Night is ambient in the classic definition of ‘music that is as ignorable as it is interesting’. It is interesting to listen to the different elements slowly shifting in and out of focus, subtly changing the sound image while retaining the peaceful mood.

I don’t know if it’s the title or my association with summer, but there’s one sound element that reminds me of the cowbells worn by cattle in the Alp fields of Austria and Switzerland.
So if anyone ever thought that Ambient music needs more cowbell‘ – try this one!


Paranon

ZENO VAN DEN BROEK – PARANON

Zeno van den Broek is a Dutch composer/multi-media artist that recently moved to Copenhagen. He “utilizes immaterial and temporal means such as sound, acoustics and projections to create site
and concept specific works. He has developed a distinctive language based on pure sound sources, often sine waves and noise, in relation to minimal visual aesthetics based on lines and grids. With these means he creates site-specific patterns of interference, which fully express the characteristics of the space.”

Paranon is released by the Moving Furniture Records label, but it would’ve fitted perfectly on the Raster-Noton label too, for its almost academical, analytical conceptual approach.
“Paranon consists of two compositions based on parameter canons of sine wave generators. […] The custom programmed sine wave generators Zeno van den Broek uses on Paranon make it possible to generate interference, shift phases and alternate frequencies with great precision.

This sounds like there’s a pretty complicated algorithm behind the two twenty-minute Canons of Paranon. But it is not a complicated work to listen to (if you’re familiar with minimalist drone music, that is. Though ‘minimal’ may be a badly chosen word for this work).
The deep drones fill the atmosphere and you can sense the interplay of the sound waves interfering with each other – which will sound different depending on the reflections of the environment it is played in. In a way, listening on headphones is the ‘purest’ way to listen to these works, and they sound absorbing this way. But then you’re eliminating the characteristics of the space it is played in, and thus you bypass one of the key elements that Zeno van den Broek investigates: space, time and physics.


Retroactions

KASSEL JAEGER – RETROACTIONS

Retroactions by Kassell Jaeger is the very first release on Moving Furniture‘s sublabel Eliane Tapes. The label is dedicated to (and inspired by) the work of Éliane Radigue, a true pioneer in the field of minimalism and drone music. If you’re familiar with her work, you’ll know what to expect from this newborn label: fascinating explorations in extreme minimalism

Kassell Jaeger presents four ‘studies’, each around 20 minutes, experimenting with different feedback setups, using 6 microphones and 10 speakers. There are two pieces (Controlled Aerial Feedbacks and Non-controlled Aerial Feedbacks), each with their own Processed version. No information is provided about the way the feedback signal is controlled.
The result is 80 minutes of deep drones perfect for ‘Deep Listening”. Like good drones should, these sounds seem to make a connection between the listener and the unknown earthly (perhaps even cosmic) frequencies. Immersive and timeless.

In line with the media used in the 60’s and 70’s, Eliane Tapes editions will be released on (limited edition of 100) cassettes. But for playback I recommend the hi-res digital files because they don’t have the characteristic hiss and distortion that cassette tapes inevitably have.


Orphax Reframed

VARIOUS ARTISTS – DREAM SEQUENCES 1: ORPHAX REFRAMED

As Orphax, Sietse van Erve is constantly looking for the perfect drone. He is a huge fan of the work of Éliane Radigue (read above about his new label Eliane Tapes), which resounds in his work. With his Dream Sequence series (currently four editions) he presents ‘experimental ambient/drone pieces with a dreamy touch.’

For this release, the Dream Sequences material was reworked and ‘reframed’ by Haarvöl, Jos Smolders and Rutger ‘Machinefabriek’ Zuydervelt. It is interesting to hear what other artists can do with sound material as basic as a drone. Of course, the artists invited are no strangers to the genre and each have an impressive body of work themselves. They’re all soul mates in this musical respect. The result 60 minutes of experimental electronic drone music in three tracks that fit together as a hand in a glove.

Haarvöl includes an explanation of their intention with this piece: ‘We wanted to make a theme in which the dream idea would somehow accommodate our aesthetics.’ This includes field recordings from a nanotechnology laboratory as well as a modified bagpipe (!). (Haarvöl are Portuguese; the bagpipe is a popular instrument in the northern region of Miranda do Douro).
“Our dream is embodied in a naturally surreal but also mechanical sequence; in dystopia seeking return to its original utopian condition at any moment: to the dream.”

Jos Smolders and Machinefabriek did not include any notes about their rework, because they wanted to let the music speak for itself. However, Smolders’ intention is given in the title: “Functional Neuratanomy Of Human Rapid Eye Movement Sleep And Dreaming.”
I guess this marks the start of yet another great series.

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Bass Communion * Orphax * CM von Hausswolff

Sisters Oregon

Sisters Oregon

BASS COMMUNION – SISTERS OREGON

A 10″ vinyl record in the Substantia Innominata series on Drone Records – a series ‘presenting works inspired by or related to “the Unknown” around or within us.’
Substantia Innominata seems like a perfect series for this new release by Bass Communion, Steven Wilson‘s alias for ‘experiments in texture’, his ‘discrete medium for manifesting his most daring, challenging and obscure musical ideas.’

Like many previous titles release under this moniker, Sisters Oregon presents a deep drone piece in four parts, filled with sub-bass, mysterious atmospheres, and some scene shifts to keep attention.
Not as extremely minimal as, for example,  Loss or Pacific Codex, but still ” filled with sonorous drone expanses, tiny microsounds, deep bass eruptions and sudden breaks, ranging from an otherworldly subtleness to a most spacious finale…”

There is no information about the meaning of the title (it could simply refer to the place called Sisters in Oregon, though that location doesn’t seem to be nearly as mysterious as the music is).

This is a vinyl (10″) only release; there is no digital edition available.



BASS COMMUNION – SISTERS OREGON – PART 1


Orphax - Somniatores

ORPHAX – SOMNIÃTÕRĒS

Sietse ‘Orphax’ van Erve is a dedicated admirer of the work of Eliane Radigue. His admiration can be heard in his own work, which focuses on creating minimalist drones, long-form pieces that make you lose your sense of time and alter your awareness of the space around you. It may be an acquired taste for some, but once you hear the soundwaves and their harmonics interact it is a fascinating experience.

Somniãtõrēs (no idea if that is an existing word in any language) is a 60 minute drone piece about sleep, and it’s a perfect soundtrack to doze away on. It is a single piece, but there are some distinct segments, variations where the emphasis on the different sound elements subtly shift, or when some new elements are places on the sound canvas. Because of these changes the piece is dynamic enough to keep the interest for the full hour (although there is of course sóme contradiction in a ‘drone’ being ‘dynamic’).


CMvH - Requiem

CARL MICHAEL VON HAUSSWOLFF – STILL LIFE – REQUIEM

A 30 minute piece (split in two parts to fit the LP format) dedicated to ‘certain sole or severeal restless souls that wander our worlds looking for a place to call home’.
Still Life – Requiem is created from sounds extracted from ‘physical matter’ using a technique called emission spectroscopy, where the frequencies that are generated from the material is analysed and transferred into listenable pitches. In this respect, it is a Requiem for the soul within the inanimate (I assume: since it’s not specified which materials were used in the spectroscopy).

Using this technique does not automatically lead to a musical composition, of course. For the source material to become a composition, CM von Hausswolff  manipulated, stretched, looped and equalised it into a composition dedicated to the energy in all things around us.

“A requiem radiates calm, peace and perhaps comfort for tormented spiritual beings – it’s a piece dedicated to promote and insert tranquility and transcendence.”

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Orphax & Machinefabriek * Hüwels & Clay * Federico Mosconi

Weerkaatsing

Weerkaatsing

ORPHAX & MACHINEFABRIEK – WEERKAATSING

The dutch title isn’t easily translated. Reflection comes close but doesn’t quite cover it.
But the cover image reveals what this album is about: two artists interacting on each others work, bouncing the ball back to each other and creating new pieces along the process.

The starting point for this album was their mutual respect. To call it a collaboration album would not be entirely true: two (of the three) tracks on this album are a remixes of each other’s music.
Orphax (Sietse van Erve, Amsterdam) remixed Machinefabriek‘s Stofstuk into Reflectie.
Spiegeling, 
on the other hand, is Machinefabriek‘s remix of Orphax’ De Eerste Dag.
Completing this album is the title track Weerkaatsing, which is a completely new piece. Not a remix, but a ‘real’ collaborative work.

Drone-based electronics, but not the static kind of drones… there’s a lot happening in these 43 minutes. The original sound is enriched with many tweaks and twitches, adding details that weren’t there in the first place (such as the string section in Spiegeling).

Ever-changing –  yet with a consistent overall atmosphere…  Weerkaatsing is one of those collaboration projects where the whole is absolutely a lot more than the sum of its parts.
1 + 1 = 3.


Unintended Space

STIJN HÜWELS & DANNY CLAY – AN UNINTENDED SPACE

Stijn Hüwels is a Belgian musician that is not only known for his own minimalist music (created using processed guitar, loops and field recordings), but also as curator of the famous Slaapwel Records label – promoters of Sleep Music with a critically acclaimed discography of handmade CD(r)-releases.

Danny Clay (from San Francisco), on the other hand, describes himself as a Composer/General Noise Maker who’s projects “often incorporate musical games, open forms, found objects, archival media, toy instruments, classrooms of elementary schoolers, graphic notation, digital errata, cross-disciplinary research, and the everything-in-between”.

So there you are: merge Stijn’s quiet and introspective guitar and voice with Danny’s interacting (but also introspective) turntables, sine waves and celesta, and you’re in for a sonic treat.
A very calming and undisturbed treat, for most parts.
The slow-paced (14 minute) 3.25.2016 (I), for example, has a background loop that could come from a William Basinski album (but without the degradation), and is covered in warm guitar layers and gentle glockenspiel-like bell sounds.

An Unintended Space is the duo’s first collaborative project, on which they worked for a year. The tracks are titled by the dates they were considered finished (I assume): between february 2016 and march 2017.


Federico Mosconi - Colonne Di Fumo

FEDERICO MOSCONI – COLONNE DI FUMO  Also on Spotify

Eight ‘smoke columns’ created by Federico Mosconi from Verona, Italy: “undefined and changing soundscapes as the figures drawn by smoke”. 
The opening track Notturno introduces sounds of distant thunder, while the album merges field recordings with Mosconi‘s guitar playing and live recordings into a beautiful dreamy set of lush ambient soundscapes.

Creating ambient music is not the only thing Federico Mosconi does: he graduated in guitar and multimedia composition at the Conservatory of Verona and has played solo as well as in orchestras, chamber ensembles and the electroacoustic improvisation sextet Cardew Ensemble.
Colonne Di Fumo is his second full album, following Acquatinta from 2014.

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Dronezzzzzzzzzz

AS606

Lineeleh

ELEH & RICHARD CHARTIER – LINELEH I Also on Spotify, LINEELEH II Also on Spotify

Starting this drone edition with the two versions of Lineleh means we’re immediately diving deep into the most minimalist of drones. Richard Chartier and Eleh (personal information remains enigmatic, despite his/her impressive output… which was an inspiration for brainwashed as well as Noise Parkworked together in 2015 and 2016 to refine this drone celebrating their fascination for micro-nuances.

The micro-nuances best reveal themself with headphone listening, although quiet amplification is also recommended. This is deep listening material, not many people will listen to these long-form drone pieces with continued concentration. But that is not the issue: on ‘quiet amplification’ it is as ignorable as it is interesting – and isn’t that the original definition of ambient music? The kind of sounds that merge with the sounds of your own environment, altering the atmosphere to match with your own state of mind.

Lineleh is released in two separate versions: a 73 minute version and a 128 minute version. Though the first version would have fitted on a CD, both editions are digital-download only.

II is not simply a stretched version of Ithere’s a distinct difference in the two pieces – although they may use the same basic sound material.
is a drone piece in the truest, most minimal possible way, reminiscent of some of the work of Eliane Radigue.
II
 explores the micro-nuances, isolating some of its parts and zooming into it with microscopic detail.
In the first 30 minutes of II, there’s a faint yet distinctive whoop sound, something like the start of a loop sample, introducing a ‘rhythm’ to hold on to. A strange artefact, unusual to this kind of drone sounds, which does not seem to be present in the version. But when it finally disappears, the dive feels even deeper than before.

These two versions should definitely be regarded as pieces on one single album, even though they are available separately. It’s not either/or, but it’s a three-hour-and-twenty-one minute trip through “distinct floating durational interactions through slowly shifting waves.



Yann Novak Surroundings

YANN NOVAK – SURROUNDINGS

Also released on the Line Imprint label is this 29 minute dronescape by Yann Novakoriginally created as a sound performance for the Soundwave Biennal in San Francisco. Is is a symbiotic mixture of field recordings captured in the Golden Gate Park and synthesized sounds representing the architecture of the de Young Museum.

As expected, you can leave it up to Yann Novak to come up with a beautiful, “deep and meditative listening environment” that has the same effect as a revitalizing power nap: a 30 minute dive into eternity.


Radboud Mens En Matthijs Kouw

RADBOUD MENS & MATTHIJS KOUW – 1

The basic motto for this album is a quote from John Cage: “If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all.”
This is especially true when listening to what we call drone music.
If you listen to drones at the wrong moment, for the wrong reasons, without the right mindset or intention, you might dismiss it as boring. And it may very well be boring – but it is intentionally so.
If you surrender yourself to the sound, immerse yourself it, can be receptive to its many details, it opens up a world of timeless wonders. Miraculous waves of sound interacting with your body, your location, your hearing, your perception.

Radboud Mens and Matthijs Kouw have previously worked together, exploring all kinds of experimental electronic music. Their collaboration for this album is the first of a two-part album, recorded live in the studio in December 2014. This edition presents two minimalistic electro-acoustic drones, created using software, recordings of acoustic instruments and a modular synth.
The tracks, each around 20 minutes, are effectively called “F” and “A”. The start of each piece is like adjusting to a tuning fork. Once you’re tuned to the basic sound you can simply wait for the variations to start happening.

The funny thing is: it never gets boring, not even after 2 x 20 minutes.
So, if you want to test Cage’s statement, you’ll have to put it on repeat!


David Fyans - Trübhand

DAVID FYANS – TRÜBHAND

David Fyans previously recorded as Erstlaub, but currently releases his work under his own name. The (German) title roughly translates to something like ‘cloudy hand’ –  a reminder of a period David (of Scottish origin) and his wife were living in Bad Zwischenahn, north Germany.
‘In exile at the time, as a result of untenable UK visa policy’.

“The absolute flatness of the area was further adding to my homesickness and feeling of isolation.”

The two tracks, called (Left Hand) and (Right Hand), were recorded as two separate live performances, using a relatively simple setup: a small case of eutorack modules, a mixer and a couple of guitar pedals. They re-create a foggy state of mind, “feelings of occluded emotion, dullness and slowness of mind…”

“At night, in the alien darkness, I would close my eyes and rend the landscape. I would summon great mountains, pulling up grassy slopes that gave way to jagged cliffs, dragging down the clouds to create negative space.”


Martijn Comes - Interrogation of the Crystalline Sublime

MARTIJN COMES – INTERROGATION OF THE CRYSTALLINE SUBLIME

Martijn Comes is a Dutch composer specialising in new media, sound design and electro-acoustic composition. His hour-long deep-drone piece Interrogation of the Crystalline Sublime was published on the spectacular Drone Cinema 2015 Raspberry Pi (!) release – the kind of gem every dronehead will probably dream of, but with a price tag only few can afford.

So it’s a good thing that the Moving Furniture label decided to reissue this piece in a 2-CD version (ánd digital download of course): CD1 containing the hour-long Interrogation by Martijn Comes, and CD2 containing 8 remixes of that piece by Scant Intone, Mitchell Akiyama, Zeno van den Broek, Alberto Boccardi, Haarvöl, Juan Antonio Nieto, Giulio Aldinucci and Orphax. 

Comes describes his work as ‘livingroom music’ (possibly distinguishing itself slightly from Erik Satie’s ‘Musique d’Ameublement’ (Furniture Music), which was meant to be played by live performers).
He set out to “write a piece that is equally meditative as it is harmonious and melodic, or at least it would hint at large subtle progressions of harmony, in a way that is magnetic to the imaginations, while the body remains in a  meditative, relaxing state.”
It’s an immersive drone, with hints of a shore in the background, that gradually grows intense and inescapable in its first half and then gradually recedes again.

It is not often that drone material like this gets remix treatments by different artists, so it’s interesting to hear what other artists do with sonic material like this.
Some of the remixers focus on the drone aspect, emphasizing different frequencies thus altering the overall feel. Others filter out artefacts (which can hardly be heard in the original), or add their own material to create abstract electro-acoustic compositions that hardly seem related to the original. Some focus on emotional aspects, others take a more analytic approach. Most of them venture into sonic extremes, thus losing some of the ‘livingroom’ aspect of the original.
But each one of these remixes sound completely different – like if they were original compositions in the first place.


Orphax Dream Sequence #3

ORPHAX – DREAM SEQUENCE #3

With the exception of Lineleh, all releases mentioned above are released on the Moving Furniture Records label, curated by Sietse van Erve alias OrphaxSo it’s only natural to include his own release here (which is not released on his own label but on Taâlem by the way).

Van Erve is a dedicated admirer of the music of Eliane Radigue and this shows in most of his music (as well as in a lot of the releases on his label).
Dream Sequence #3 is the third part (duh!) of a series of dreamy ambient drone pieces. Part 1 and Part 2 are available through Orphax‘s Bandcamp Shop.

Because of the limitations of the 3″ CD it is released on, it is relatively short (at least for a drone) with its 23 minutes. It’s the kind of drone that can isolate you from your surroundings (instead of enhancing it), which definitely helps to drift away into a short but refreshing dream.

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Ariel Guzik * Cut Worms * Cinema Perdu * Orphax

Ariel Guzik

Ariel Guzik

ARIEL GUZIK – CORDIOX

I was lucky enough to be in Venice at the 2013 Biennale, so I was able to experience an installation of the Cordiox machine in old San Lorenzo Church.
It was an impressive setup, this enormous machine in a reverberating space, generating a sound that I could immerse myself in for hours.
So three years later it is a nice surprise to find this release on the Vox Archives label – ‘a label released in the intersection of the visual and sound’.

 

Guglielmo Marconithe inventor of the radio’ had a vision that ‘sound never dies, it emanates and resonates eternally, it floats around us as an etheric entity, waiting to be captured’. He dreamt that with a development of his inventions he would be able to hear it, to hear the voices of the past.

The Cordiox is Ariel Guzik‘s installation machine that seems to capture some of these etheric frequencies and translate them into sound. The installation reacts to its immediate surrounding: the complex contraption is not intended as an instrument, but as a “means for listening (to) what is inaudible in the surroundings, and in turn, give it back in different degrees of harmonic force”.

In its vinyl form, you’ll miss the beauty of the instrument, with its giant strings attached to mysterious anachronistic wooden closets featuring all kinds of knobs and switches.
But what you dó get is a beautiful recording of drone sounds that are clearly different from all other drone recordings. Which is due to the nature of this sound: It is the recording of the air.
“Only the air. What else, since sound is nothing other than the percussion of air?”

In case you wonder: the person on this album cover is neither Ariel Guzik nor Guglielmo Marconi: it’s James Clerk Maxwell, known for his classical theory of electromagnetic radiation.



Ariel Guzik – Cordiox 4


Cut Worms

CUT WORMS  – LUMBAR FIST

Lumbar Fist may be Cut Worms’ first album, but it certainly is not the first project Richard van Kruysdijk is involved in: he has been releasing music in many different projects since 1993. His work is published under many different aliases and covers many different styles. He has played and performed with many well-known musicians such as Peter Christopherson (Coil), Edward Ka-Spel, Graham Lewis, Jarboe, Blaine Reininger – to name but a few.
For the ‘atmospheric, cinematic, intuitive drone music’ on this solo project he avoids using prefab loops and settings, but creates all sounds from scratch using live generated and processed sounds both acoustic and electronic.  The result is inventive drone music clearly showing Van Kruysdijk‘s sound design skills.
Not only very pleasing to listen to but also interesting enough to try to distinguish the sounds you hear.
Most of the album consists relatively quiet droning, slowly building up to a somewhat more noisy climax at the end in Slow Binging. 

Also on Spotify


Cinema Perdu

CINEMA PERDU – INTERVENTIONS IN A LANDSCAPE

Apart from releasing his music as Orphax (see below), Sietse van Erve also runs the Moving Furniture label, a label focussing on experimental electronic music and steadily working on an impressive catalogue.
Interventions in a Landscape is a recent release in this series.
Cinema Perdu (Martijn Pieck, also known as co-composer in the [Law-Rah] Collective) describes his music as “Soundtracks without Movies”.

“I usually use field recordings as a starting point for my compositions. With all kinds of other sound sources […] I want to musically (re)create the feeling of a place at a certain time.”

This describes the process of creating the four pieces on this album, all named after a Dutch coastal landscape. But do not expect the gentle sound of rolling waves, because these are spot where the human intervention is felt in every detail.
The sound of the coastal landscape may be the source, but the ‘interventions’ have made them into more industrial drones. Which is no surprise if, for example,  you know that IJmuiden is the home of a gigantic complex  (formerly Hoogovens Nederland, now Tata Steel).
But amidst all these industrial interventions, there is still room for more quiet moments. And it’s exactly that strengthening of contrasts’ that adds the extra dimension to these recordings.


Orphax thai ngoc

ORPHAX – MUSIC FOR THÁI NGOC

This minimal drone was created during a period when Sietse ‘Orphax‘ van Erve‘s suffered of insomnia – maybe caused by the end-of-summer warmth, or maybe because of hay fever, or whatever other reason. It’s all about lying in bed and wondering why you actually can’t sleep.
This explains the extremely restrained atmosphere of this drone: not much going on except for a comfortable, slowly changing blanket of sound that might help you fall asleep.

It also explains the title: Thái Ngọc, the person this album is named after and dedicated to, is a Vietnamese insomniac who claimed he hasn’t slept in over 43 years – fully functioning without sleeping after a bout of fever in 1973. Only in 2006 he reported that he was beginning to feel “like a plant without water” due to the lack of sleep.
It is unknown if he has slept in the 10 years following that 2006 statement, but I sure would like to know how he would have reacted to this relaxed and unhurried, somewhat lo-fi hour of drone.

Also on Spotify

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Bas van Huizen, Orphax, Chihei Hatakeyama, Dirk Serries

Kluwekracht

BAS VAN HUIZEN KLUWEKRACHT
You only need one short look at the (A5-sized) cover to know that you’re in for something different. The title is – as usual for Van Huizen‘s releases – untranslatable: a nonexistent dutch word which could mean something like ‘entangled force’.

‘Van Huizen searches for music that can speak for itself’.
And so it does – but once you watched the fantastic teaser video (check below) there’s no escaping the striking surrealistic images conjured by this combination of sound and images!

Kluwekracht is created from voice, guitars and singing bowls – but the resulting power ambient is never far from noise and may not be anything like what you would expect from this combination!


Dream Sequence

ORPHAX – DREAM SEQUENCE 1
For this short 3″ EP-release – the first of a series ‘with a dreamy touch’ – Orphax (Sietse van Erve) used a 40 year old Digisizer DIY synth to create the basic drone material.
‘A weird machine that has a high random factor and many errors’.
The result is a nice meandering, adventurous – yet dreamy – drone piece with enough variation to keep your attention for its full 21 minutes length.


Five Dreams

CHIHEI HATAKEYAMA – FIVE DREAMS
Once you’ve heard a few of his releases, you’ll immediately recognise the soothing sounds of Chihei Hatakeyama.
The calm, slow and peaceful meditations on Five Dreams are no exception.

Inspired by Ten Nights of Dreams‘ by Soseki Natsume, which were each set in different time periods, Hatakeyma presents his interpretations of five dreams, each one from a different month.
The basic sound files were recorded in 2008 using an electric guitar, but Hatakeyama took all the time he needed to edit them until they were ready to be released.


Storm of Silence

CHIHEI HATAKEYAMA & DIRK SERRIES – STORM OF SILENCE
The Glacial Movements releases are all related to winter, and cold desolate icy landscapes.  So is this collaboration of Chihei Hatakeyama with Belgian ambient music veteran Dirk Serries:

“My work with Chihei is one for the winter. Amidst the icy landscapes, the isolation and the desolate space. When nature becomes almost super linear, less expressive in colour but with equal strength and severity. […] Chihei’s approach to my sources were different, more isolated, perhaps colder and distant. Almost like something you witnessed in the distance on the horizon, something less concrete and hard to define.”

A perfect description of the seasonal ‘isolationism’ in these recordings, but at the same time I never really feel any ‘coldness’… I feel nothing but ‘warmth’ when listening to this music.
Not the kind of tropical, festive summer heat of course, but the kind of warmth you feel when you decide the weather’s too bad to to go out an so you stay at your comfortably heated home to surrender to the dark and sleepy winter days.
So: perfect winter music indeed.

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Digitalsimplyworld; Ashes of Piemonte; Sam Genovese; Orphax; Eren Silence

Ambientblog

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 or without extra words!

Digitalsimplyworld

DIGITALSIMPLYWORLD – TOUT DEVIENT LA MUSIQUE
[FREE Download]
“Tout Devient La Musique” (“Everything is Music”) offers 81 minutes of highly varied soundscapes “reaching to the ends of classical electronic music, where everything becomes different.”.

Digitalsimplyworld combines a lot of different ambient music style variations, presenting a mysterious and adventurous brew of music, anti-music and sound effects. Sometimes alienating (such as the endlessly repeating”Hello” sampled voice in “Un Lieu ou tout devient la musique” (“A Place where everything is music”)), sometimes dark and threatening, and sometimes comforting. Although the tracks are offered in stereo, the use of surround sound speakers is heartily recommended.


Datura Notes

THE ASHES OF PIEMONTE – DATURA NOTES

With this ongoing collaboration project, the duo Wil Bolton and Lee Anthony Norris present their second project, released on Twice Removed as a double CD album featuring four tracks, totalling about 110 minutes!

Both (multi- )instrumentalists combine deep ambience, field recordings, guitar (and whatever more they could possibly use) to create a hazy, imaginative dreamworld.
Titles like “Endless Sleep in the Garden of Dream”, “From the Garden of Dreams to the Shores of Cthulthu”, “The Colour of Space” and “The Sunken Land” may help set your imagination into the right direction.


Sam Genovese - The Locust

SAM GENOVESE – THE LOCUST IN YOUR MOUTH
“The Locust in your Mouth” – “The Flower in your Throat” – “The Bee in your Eye”.
… Titles that do not exactly conjure the most comfortable of images.
But don’t let this scare you off too much, since there is a lot of beauty to be found in the rich soundscapes that Sam Genovese (composer and producer of electronic music and sound art from San Francisco) presents here.
His music is inspired by the photographs he took and which are presented in the accompanying 24 page booklet. This album can be enjoyed in many different ways:
“This music wants to be played loud. It likes a subwoofer.
This music wants to be played soft and low. It likes headphones and comfy pillows.

This music wants to take you on a journey. It likes the fuzzy images in your mind.”


Orphax - De Tragedie....

ORPHAX – DE TRAGEDIE VAN EEN LIEDJESSCHRIJVER ZONDER WOORDEN
Orphax is (Amsterdam-based) Sietse van Erve, also label curator of Moving Furniture Records. He has been creating and releasing music (as Orphax) since 2002.
This album features music that was written between 2005 and 2007, a ‘period with many transitions in the live of van Erve. It was the end of his student years, the begin of his working years, a period where he struggled with an at that time unknown disease, a period where he was searching for answers to questions he didn’t know.’ Those were not the easiest years for Sietse, as one may guess from the title (which translates to ‘The tragedy of a song writer without words’).
The six electronic soundscapes on this album “are dealing with small details in the composition creating an environment that feels comfortable but at the same time grabs you by the throat. The music goes from minimal droning sounds to isolationist soundscapes and experimental ambient moods”.


Eren Silence cover

EREN SILENCE – EREN I
[FREE Download]

Not much is known about Eren Silence, other than that this album is released on Textural Records, (as a free download) and consists of three long drone tracks (12 – 15 minutes each) “full of spectral stillness, for a mind transformation“.
You may indeed have to have a patient state of mind since the tracks are extremely minimal and hardly evolving – especially the first two tracks. (‘A’, ‘B’). The third track (‘C’) introduces an interesting, sci-fi like, sound effect which may help you prepare to return to more earthly matters.

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Joe Evans, Orphax, Akumu, Alex Durlak, Swartz et

Ambientblog

In the Shortlist sections, I will mention some of the albums that I enjoyed listening to, but couldn’t find the time (or the right words) for a “full” review for. Still, I think they deserve your attention: use the links to find more info and hear previews.

http://www.runningonair.com/JE_EP.html

Joe Evans – Ecliptic Plane
The liner notes to the tracks are almost scientifical, combining details from mathematics, astronomy, musical theory and sound design. Interesting information for those who want to know about this music’s background, but maybe somewhat overwhelming for the casual listener.
But then: this is not intended as ‘casual’ music!
“While this work deals with some of this familiar subject (space, and more specifically, the sun and planets), it does so with the emphasis on time and particularly by how it is marked by movement within the solar system.
The tracks “Ecliptic Plane” and “Resonant TNOs” extensively use the data from the planets, their moons and other objects to create their rhythms and harmonies. In the case of “Resonant TNOs” the musical scale was derived directly from the frequency ratios of the orbits of the titular objects themselves.
Whilst “Approaching/Receding Sun” and “Oort Cloud” are essentially impressionistic in nature, they are the results of mathematical experiments that have links with their subjects through mood and metaphor.
The result is a fascinating showcase of contemporary electronic music, some of which (especially the opening and closing track “Receding/Approaching Sun” ) would have perfectly fitted the “2001 – A Space Odyssey” soundtrack.


Confused

Orphax – Confused
This 30 minute EP took me some time to get used to, because I could not really decide what to think about the loud and rather intrusive opening drone: the sound of the first five-six minutes somehow reminded me of a sustained vuvuzela or bagpipe drone.
So yes, it got me confused indeed. As intended, obviously. 
In these first minutes, Amsterdam-based musician Sietse van Erve defines his aural territory, but once the sound  has pulled you in the track starts evolving slowly, getting deeper and more fascinating with every introduction of a new layer of sound, created improvising with “guitar, electric toothbrush, razor, vocals and audiomulch”.



Transmissions

Akumu – Transmissions
“‘Transmissions’ is a series of short, abstract pieces that delve into Akumu’s interest in messages hidden within messages, of sounds between sounds, of communications that are slightly beyond our perception… beyond our reach.
Built upon recordings of radio static, electrical interference and guitar-based ephemera, “Transmissions” creates a world of tones, clicks, squelches and pulses – a space that lies between calm drones and arrhythmical noise. A place where lost transmissions reside.”
[Free download]


Seconds

Alex Durlak – Seconds
Another relatively short track (20’30”) – guitar improvisations processed in realtime “using granular synthesis techniques.”
“‘Seconds’ is an ever changing narrative through a dark and open space, perhaps a walking tour through an abandoned factory with it’s machinery left running or the soundtrack to a time lapse video of steel being cut under an electron microscope.”
The track is offered as a free digital download, but is also physically released on a single-sided 12″ on white vinyl (with a story excerpt printed on the non-music side: check the images).


http://swartz.bandcamp.com/album/respire

Swartz et – Respire
Instrumentation-wise, this album is quite different from the others, because it is built around recordings of rhythmic and meditative breathing made by Steve (Swartz) and some close friends in a quiet room.
From there, even the instruments recorded in the aftermath were treated as breathing entities. Inhaling and exhaling. Washing in and out. Everything moving in, through and around the sounds of friends sitting silently in each other’s presence, just being.
All of these elements are knit together – guitars, piano, breathing and heartbeats – to create a work that is delicate, intimate and, at times, visceral in nature.”

Please note: although this description may indicate otherwise, this album should definitely nót be filed under “New Age”!

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