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Max Ananyev * Danny Clay

Water Atlas

Water Atlas

MAX ANANYEV – WATER ATLAS

Serein may not be the most prolific label in the field (this is their second title for 2018), but when they release a new title you can be sure it is worth checking out. They combine quality control with a broad-minded view which means that each release bears new surprises and spans different genres.

Water AtlasMax Ananyev‘s first full album for Serein (his earlier two albums Communication and The Way To The Ocean were released by Preserved Sound) – for instance, can be labelled as an ‘ambient’ album for most part of it. But it breaks away from the usual constrictions of the genre by using acoustic instruments in a somewhat more ‘jazzy’ setting. A refreshing sound, different without breaking the atmosphere.

In his liner notes, St. Petersburg based Max Ananyev refers to the two words in the title:
“Water is always something mysterious, detached. Water has stirred the imagination of people. It erases civilisations from the face of the earth, is a panacea for mortal wounds and a portal to another world.”
An Atlas “awakens fantasy, lures you with the unusual landscapes of distant countries, invites you on a certain journey”. Places “you will never see in your life. Be you even the most fearless traveler or richest traveler. But these places can always find life in a person’s imagination.”

On Water AtlasMax Ananyev aims to take you to mysterious places hidden deep in your own imagination.


Danny Clay - Periphery

DANNY CLAY – PERIPHERY

Periphery is the fourteenth release in the Slaapwel Records series, a now near-legendary Belgian label that is dedicated to‘music to fall asleep to’ and presents it releases in endearing hand-stitched covers. The label is now curated by Stijn Hüwels, who previously collaborated with Danny Clay on An Unintended Space– so it’s no big surprise that Clay is the next artist to this series.

What ís somewhat of a surprise, however, is the musical content of this edition.
Due to its conceptual nature, previous editions in the Slaapwel series were mostly of the soothing ambient / droney kind; electronic as well as acoustic. I simply expected Clay would continue this tradition set by previous contributors like Machinefabriek, Steinbrüchel, Greg Haines, Peter Broderick, Sonmi451, Simon Scott, The Boats and Gareth Davis (among others).
The four versions of Periphery (each one a different realization of the same score), however, present soft modern-classical chamber music scored for flute, cello and piano, with Danny Clay adding the ‘tones’.

It still perfectly fits the Slaapwel concept, especially since the score is repeated in slightly different versions. It is ‘sleepy’ music, based on unraveling “a simple tune Clay heard at his grandparents’ church as a child, leaving remnants to drift among each other and the original to loom as a kind of vague feeling at the edge of the senses”.

Periphery is not intended for active listening, it’s most rewarding if you just relax and let it flow. You might fall asleep in the process – never mind. But perhaps you won’t: like most of the other Slaapwel releases the music is a bit too beautiful to waste it by falling asleep…

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Sonmi451 – Ruis

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ruis

The Slaapwel  label, specialised in music to fall asleep to, is becoming more collectible with every release.

The previous (six) releases were all very beautiful (package ánd music-wise) and perfectly fitted the purpose they were created for: dozing away quietly, listening to music that is ‘interesting and boring at the same time’.

Among the previous performers were Peter Broderick, Greg Haines, Machinefabriek + Soccer Committee and Jasper TX. (check [here] for some Slaapwel-reviews on ambientblog.net).

This seventh release in this remarkable series is this one, called “Ruis” by Somni451.

Ruis” literally means ‘Noise‘ which suggests about the total opposite of the music it contains: 32 calm minutes, slowly building but without climax. The basic piano layers resemble the sound of Brian Eno‘s Neroli, though the composition here is more repetitive than generative.

Ruis” is like a comfortable bed: the lower region drones and chords carry you like a comfortable soft mattress, while the higher note sequences fold around your head like a pillow.
When playing music like this, you’d almost wish for insomnia…

Somni451 is the alias of Bernard Zwijzen from Hasselt, Belgium. He has been releasing electronic music under this name since 2005, mostly on the U-cover label.
If, like me, you wonder about the alias, his website helps:
“Sonmi451 is a character from David Mitchell’s novel “Cloud Atlas” who works as a slave-robot in an underground dinerplace, in a society called Nea So Copros in the distant future. It’s quite a sympathetic humanoïd, who’s aspiring efforts to become enlightened are brutally oppressed by a totalitarian, consumer-driven regime.”

Like all previous Slaapwel  releases, Ruis is beautifully packed in a handstamped cardboard cover including a print designed by Louis Reith.

Though printed in a larger edition (500 copies this time), the physical release will probably sell out quickly (leaving only the digital download).  So, like label owner Wim Maesschalk said: “don’t sleep over it for too long…”

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Peter Broderick – Music for a Sleeping Sculpture…

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Peter Broderick

Earlier this weekend, the Belgian label Slaapwel (Sleep Well) presented their first labelnight in Leuven, Belgium.
To my regret, I was not able to be there – although I’m a big fan of Slaapwel’s sleep inducing catalogue.

And, looking at the venue for this special night (including breakfast) it must have been very special indeed:

impressive album was released together with Machinefabriek.  
This new Slaapwel release
is a nice addition to his discography.

The 30 minute track starts with some vocal sampling (reminiscing Brian Eno’s Music for Airports). Gradually the vocal sample dissolves into a beautiful  piano track. Your sleep may be intruded slightly by some whispering, whistling and singing, but eventually your sleep will get deeper and deeper when the cycles repeat.
Sleepy, but far from boring!
It’s a comfortable listening experience – as might be expected from previous Broderick records as well as from previous Slaapwel releases.

The way this album is released is something different, too. This album is available through bandcamp, and the first 500 people downloading it from there will also receive a physical copy.
Or, if you want:
Those who order a physical copy can immediately download the track so they don’t have to wait until the CD arrives.

Further good news if you missed the previous (5) Slaapwel releases: from now they are also available to  download from bandcamp.

Off now, for a good night’s sleep.

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Greg Haines – Komarovo

Compared to earlier releases on “Slaapwel Records” (Sleep Well Records – the Belgian label dedicated to Music to Fall Asleep To), Komarovo may be the hardest one to fall asleep to, simply because of its dynamic range.

For this 30 minute piece, Greg Haines used sound recordings from a Berlin performance, including piano, tape recorders and the impressive sound of the Grünewaldkirche church organ.

Komarovo starts quietly (as expected) developing an almost romantic piano theme layered over tape recorder sounds and an echoing church environment. When the mood is set, the piano theme cuts up and defragments, and the church organ drone sets in, becoming more and more overwhelming in building a sort of climax seldomly heard in ambient music like this.
The last part of the composition is a return to form, back to the peaceful atmosphere. ‘You can go to sleep now’, it seems to tell us.

It may be a bit of a depart from the label’s concept of ‘Sleep Music’, but it’s also a fantastic release that both Greg Haines and Slaapwel Records should be very proud of!

As always, this release comes in a hand-stamped carton case with stitched artwork. The label website states it’s limited to 150 copies so (once again) this may be hard to get by now. But luckily the website states that there ‘may be reissues someday’.
I do insist on that!

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