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Richard Chartier * Porya Hatami * Broken Thoughts

Broken Thoughts

Richard Chartier - Removed


It has almost become a genre in itself: reductionist minimalism, exploring deterioration (think Basinski), or exploring the artefacts of multiple digital copies (think Alva Noto).
Or: exploring what is remains after removing important details – think Richard Chartier‘s latest album (his first new studio album under his own name since 2013).

It’s a famous Miles Davis quote: “Don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there.”
Which is exactly what Richard Chartier does here on this album.

It took a five-year process of removal/erasure to form these two pieces (26 and 23 minutes).
“Only trace elements appear from what was”.
Only Chartier himself can probably  tell what ‘was’ and what has been removed. But the result is a fascinating ‘ghost of a composition’ which presents a sonic universe in itself. An infinite and timeless universe.

Two ways of listening are recommended: you can play it quietly amplified across your space, changing the atmosphere of your surroundings in the truest sense of ‘ambient music’.
Or, listen carefully on your headphones (be sure to listen on a decent system and using a lossless audio source) to hear all the captivating details of this ‘glacially paced progression of discreet relational sonic events and flows.’
I recommend doing both, though not at the same time.


PORYA HATAMI – MONADS  Also on Spotify

Porya Hatami (from Iran) has released quite an array of albums since 2012, and this is his debut for the Line label.
Compared to his earlier releases, Monads is more abstract and experimental in sound design (which in fact perfectly fits the label).

Monad is a philosophical concept referring (in this case) to ‘elemental particles of nature; basic elements of perceptual reality.’

These (twelve) tracks are presented as Monads, which is to say they ‘neglect to follow structure or narrative.’
Each track is a single entity (maintaining ‘a harmonious distance from each other with no open window for communication’)

It’s like listening to a few minutes of sound taken from a stream that has neither beginning nor end – a stream that simply ‘is’. Yet was unheard by many, until Hatami unlocked the hidden dimensions and found a way to collect these sonic fractals for us to enjoy.

Broken Thoughts


Broken Thoughts is Keju Luo from Yunnan, China. This is the first time I hear his music, but it is obviously created with a lot of experience.
The website already boasts seven solo albums as Broken Thoughts (though Bandcamp states it is his third solo album), and many other works, collaborations and commissions.

Seven tracks – exactly five minutes each – exploring ‘the intersection of cinematic soundscapes, industrial rhythm structures and IDM style noises and glitches.’
For further indications of the sound you can expect, Keju names his inspirational sources: Hecq, Ulver, Trent Reznor, etc.

But these are just references: to my ears the music is as fascinating as the cover image is. You cannot really tell what you hear / see. There are vague references to reality, but the result is hard to describe.

Listen for yourself – I think you will agree this album ranks among the best of the current adventurous electronic music.

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Andrea Belfi * Tsone * Arovane/Hatami

Tsone - Intimate Haze



Iikki releases – the physical editions – include a vinyl album as well as a hardcover art book. They are ‘the result of a dialog between a visual artist and a music artist’.
You can buy both separately: vinyl only, book only, or even a download-only if you wish… but of course you’ll miss out part of what these releases are about. Still… not everyone is able to spend €59 on the book+vinyl option, so it’s great that Iikki also offers the download option to enjoy with a video preview of the book:


Alveare is the second Iikki edition, and it presents the music of Andrea Belfi paired with the photography of ‘urban landscape explorator’ Matthias Heiderich.
I have not seen the book (apart from the video included above), but I can imagine there can be an interesting interaction when watching the images while listening to the music at the same time.
But it’s not strictly necessary to enjoy both at the same time.

This is Belfi‘s sixth solo album, not counting many other collaborative records on various labels. Belfi manages to create a unique atmosphere with his expressive yet restrained percussion and drumming style. Embedded in mysterious layers of electronic soundscapes, it somewhat reminds of legendary Can recordings. (But of course comparisons like that always fail.)

Not many ‘experimental ambient’ albums are centered around complex percussive compositions, for it is quite hard to use percussion instruments to create atmospheric music. Unless you master these instruments like Andrea Belfi does!

Tsone - Intimate Haze


I’m afraid I can’t really reveal much about this release since I don’t know very much details – apart from the fact that Tsone is an alias of Anthony (Tony) Obr.
Though there is some recent activity on Tsone’s soundcloud page, Obr‘s website updates seem to heave stopped around 2014.  
The lack of background info is a bit weird, since Discogs lists no less than 23 releases under this name (many of them self-released).
But why care about that? Music can speak for itself, doesn’t it?

Intimate Haze is released on Stereoscenica label closely related to the Ambient Sleeping Pill internet radio station.
This is an indication of what you can expect from this highly immersive ‘classic’ ambient album of ‘progressive ambient of at least 9 distinct movements between the 3 tracks – ranging from epic to mysterious, chaotic to tranquil.’



No less than 19 tracks on this album, 7 of which are relatively short interludes called Rhizome. Rhizome is a botanical term for a ‘stem of a plant, often sending out roots and shoots from its nodes…If a rhizome is separated into pieces, each piece may be able to give rise to a new plant’. The short interludes may have the same function, they are musical entities from which another composition may grow.

Uwe ‘Arovane‘ Zahn (from Berlin) and Porya Hatami (from Iran) may come from a different background, but both artist’s skills merge perfectly into an (ehhh…) ‘organic’ sound design.
They have worked together in the past (most recently on last year’s Kaziwa) – in fact, this is their fourth collaboration album!

On Organism they focus on a dark, mysterious, but extremely detailed sound – as alive and moving as nature’s finest organisms.
Organism celebrates the 10th anniversary of Karl Records from Berlin: ‘an outlet for puzzling sounds that question today’s pigeonholes of reception’. Unlike most of their other releases, this is a download-only release.

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Zahn/Hatami/McClure; Philippe Petit; Robert Crouch; Jose Soberanes

Robert Crouch


If this was still the seventies (and if ambient drone music were a major popular genre) this would’ve probably be referred to as an Ambient Supergroup. Three renowned artists from the genre working together on this new collaborative project: Uwe Zahn (probably better known as Arovane), Darren McClure and Porya Hatami.
In modern times like now, there’s no need to be working from the same studio, it’s easy to exchange sounds from their own studios in Germany (Zahn), Iran (Hatami) and Japan (McClure).

There is no explanation about the album and track titles: strange words all beginning with V. Voon, Vhaundt, Vhandaan, Veeland, Velbb.  The titles are as abstract as most of the music is:

“Melodic piano parts rise above swirling layers of granular textures and processed field recordings to create widescreen ambience. The project put an emphasis on abstract sound design merged with more emotive, tonal elements to conjure an album that reflected three sonic viewpoints as a whole.”

There is a wide range of sounds in the palette of this album. Each track has a different nature – the sound ranges from sharp, high-pitched electronics in the opening track to the soft, well-rounded sound of bowls and piano in Vhandaan. But all of the different elements are perfectly merged; the sonic personalities fit together very well.
Together, Zahn, Hatami and McClure are a team of sonic alchemists who created a very fine – pure ‘gold’ – album of abstract electronic soundscapes.

Philippe Petit - You Only Live Ice

For a release on the Glacial Movements label, it’s a fitting title: You Only Live Ice. But the interesting question remains: do you consider this ‘cold’, ‘glacial’ music (“like being entrapped within an arctic shelf…”), or do you associate it with ‘warmth’? It’s all about context I guess…

Philippe Petit
prefers to be introduced as a “musical travel agent” rather than as a composer. He has been creating experimental music since the early 2000’s and has worked with quite an impressive list of collaborators: people like Lydia Lunch, Murcof, Stephen O’Malley, Faust, Foetus, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Graham Lewis, Scanner, Machinefabriek…. and the list goes on. Most of the works in his discography are collaboration projects, true solo works are relatively rare.

You Only Live Ice is such a solo work. It’s a 43 minute piece presented in two parts: the first 9 minute are the basic piece that is de- (and re-)constructed almost beyond recognition in the second part which seems to drift further and further away from reality: “atmosphere and dramaturgy lead the ear into a suspended world…”. But at the same time the tension slowly increases to an almost breathtaking climax… like you drifted off to somewhere from where you can’t get back.

Robert Crouch

“My work always privileges the act of listening; it is rarely about performance. After I recorded these initial sessions, I forced myself to forget about their construction, to un-learn how I made them, allowing myself the opportunity to experience them as sound objects. It is at that point where my composition process begins.”

The five pieces on A Gradual Accumulation of Ideas Become Truth (six if you count the bonus track Potbelly Hill, Layer II (sanctuaries) included in the download) were all created from original studio improvisations that were recorded using a modular synthesizer as the primary sound source.

“Complex patterns were constructed, recorded, and quickly dismantled, with the intentions to use the stereo recordings as the basis for new conpositions at a later date.”

The result is a fascinating collection of minimalist drones, each referring to a specific location (or moment), that are as detached from its original source as is the construction in the cover image.

Also on Spotify

Jose Soberanes - Rising Tide

Harry (‘Spheruleus’) Towell’s Whitelabrecs is releasing a string of interesting CDR’s at a rate that is hard to keep up with. They are all released in a limited edition of 50 so chances are they are sold out quickly. Like this particular one is by now, sadly.
But the download version still remains available, so it’s still worth paying attention to this album.

Jose Soberanes is a sound artist from Hidalgo, Mexico. He has created music from various influences, including IDM, Minimalism, Modern Classical, Death Metal And Jazz – but this album is presenting minimal drone pieces using acoustic and electric guitar, analogue synthesizers, static, effect pedals, tape loops, field recordings and found sounds.
“José strived to create something that would reflect his feelings of loss, anxiety and hope during what was a difficult time. These three elements form the basis of a thoroughly immersive sound environment spanning around 45 minutes with glimmers of hope flickering in and out of a wall of despair.”

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