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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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DreamScenes – August 2018

DreamScenes CZ

“I got sunshine in my stomach
Like I just rocked my baby to sleep.
I got sunshine in my stomach
But I can’t keep me from creeping sleep,
sleep, deep in the deep”

Tracklist: 

  • 00:00 DreamScenes – Intro (Susanna + Peter Gabriel)
  • 01:07 Sphäre Sechs – Transference
    Particle Void, 2018, Cryo Chamber
  • 05:55 William Selman – The Island Before The Internet
    Musica Enterrada, 2018, Mysteries of the Deep
  • 11:23 Todd Tobias & Chloe March – Cherra Leilahi
    Amialluma, 2018, Hidden Shoal
  • 17:31 Abul Mogard – Over My Head
    Above All Dreams, 2018, Ecstatic
  • 22:19 Trondheim Voices & Asle Karstad – Room #6
    Rooms & Rituals, 2018, Grappa
  • 24:30 Trondheim Voices & Asle Karstad – Hymn
    Rooms & Rituals, 2018, Grappa
  • 28:27 Max Ananyev – Golden Haze
    Water Atlas, 2018, Serein
  • 33:42 Danny Clay – Periphery 3
    Periphery, 2018, Slaapwel
  • 41:42 Foresteppe – S02E09
    Maeta, 2019, Eilean Records
  • 44:08 Harnes Kretzer – Farewell
    Black Noise, 2018, self-released
  • 47:57 Jochen Tiberius Koch – Brute Neighbors
    Walden, 2018, Schole Records
  • 53:17 Debashis Sinha – The White Dog
    The White Dog, 2018, self-released
  • 58:56 DreamScenes – Outro (Dean Hurley)

Play this edition on-demand from the Concertzender website.

OR:
stream it from Mixcloud:

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Gareth Davis * Celestino * Eric Holm

Barotrauma

Filament

GARETH DAVIS – FILAMENT

Slaapwel  (Sleep Well) is the Belgian label that is devoted to releasing music to sleep to. Or, to be more exact: “music for the moments when you’re not sleepy enough to fall asleep, and not lively enough to keep doing stuff. Music that soundtracks the thin border between being asleep and lying awake”.
With their earlier releases, all packed in lovely hand assembled cardboard packages, Slaapwel has built such a solid reputation that many of their followers (like me) blindly order a new release. Which obviously also means you better not hesitate too long if you want to score a physical copy.

Gareth Davis Filament  is their 13th release (the content manager of the  Slaapwel site release page probably dozed off too, since it misses the last two titles). And, once again, it’s a thing of beauty worth checking out.

A 35 minute solo performance by Gareth Davis on bass- and contrabass clarinet, field recordings, effect pedals and electronics. Soft breathing accents are placed subtly over a droney atmospheric background. The soft sleepy (duh!) atmosphere is carefully maintained throughout the piece, avoiding climaxes, while at the same time there’s enough details to keep your attention.

Like most other Slaapwel  releases, the music is simply too beautiful to fall asleep.


Celestino

CELESTINO – BEYOND ENEMY

“Occasionally composers can generate an environment that is utterly personal yet still invitational to the listener – Celestino is one such artist capable of doing this.”
This may read like a general promo blurb, but when the recommendation is a quote coming from Lawrence English, it’s better to take it seriously and check it out.
Beyond Enemy is one of a new series of releases on the Room40 sublabel A Guide To Saintsdedicated to music in cassette format (and luckily digital too: “we’re not thát idealogical”).

Celestino is Portland based Gabriel Celestino Higgins. This is his second Guide To Saints release, following Kindling (2013). The music was composed while camping on the Tundra of North Alaska – which explains for the desolate atmosphere.

“A vague industrial overtone reigns throughout much of this edition, a smoggy beauty akin to light caught in tainted cloud.”

Also on Spotify


Barotrauma

ERIC HOLM – BAROTRAUMA

The basic sound materials for Barotrauma was recorded in the Nordic fjords south of Oslo. But the soundscapes are quite different from what you might expect:
“Like environments on land, the seabed is populated with machines, industry, and noise. Interference is everywhere. Engines, equipment, drilling: it is a mirror of on-land environmental exploitation.”

Dark, industrial, sub-aquatic soundscapes – created from sounds collected from the sea floor and sub-sea equipment. Yet this isn’t an ‘environmental’ underwater recording in the strict sense, since Eric Holm manipulated and processed the soundscapes into this underwater vision.
Barotrauma is Holm‘s second album, following up 2014’s equally fascinating debut Andøyawhich was constructed out of two 30 second recordings of Arctic powerlines.


Also on Spotify

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Moby; Strom Noir & Micromelancolié; Emiliano Romanelli

strom noir & micromelancolie

Moby - Long Ambients 1

MOBY – LONG AMBIENTS 1: CALM, SLEEP
Even the busiest music producers need some time to chill out. Moby (Richard Melville Hall) originally made this collection for himself, but decided to share it.
For Free (!)

The title tells it all: it’s a collection of eleven long ambient tracks (LA1 – LA11), totalling 4 hours of calm sleep music.
There has always been a connection from Moby to ambient music, most notably his 1993 Ambient album (which was not very ambient ambient), and Hotel: Ambient (originally released with Hotel in 2005, but recently rereleased separately). But they were never as ‘pure’ ambient in form as these tracks are.
This is not an official release, obviously: you won’t find any info about it on his  official website. It is published on the Little Pine website, which is the site of Moby‘s vegan bistro in Silver Lake, California.
I cannot imagine what hardcore Moby fans may think about this release, but it’s a great find for ambient music lovers. And for insomniacs!


MOBY – LA7


strom noir & micromelancolie

STROM NOIR & MICROMELANCOLIÉ – 49°05’19​,​3″N 22°34’04​,​0’E
Packed in an ecopack sleeve with a beautiful image that refers to a fingerprint as well as to a height map, this album point to the mysterious location that is also its title. The coördinates seem to point to some place near Topola, deep in the heart of Slovakia – ‘places a bit distant to urban civilization’ – … but in fact that may not be important at all: ‘The answer (to Where is it?) is in the music itself’.
Strom Noir is Emil Mat’ko from Slovakia, and Micromélancolie is Robert Skrzynski from Poland. Their music slightly different characteristics that complement each other very well: Strom Noir‘s ‘guitar/electronic passages’ and Micromelancolié‘s ‘sonic structures prepared from defects and scraps’.
The album contains two long compositions that are constantly changing – like floating over immense unknown (Slovakian) landscapes.


Emiliano Romanelli

EMILIANO ROMANELLI – TABULATURA (VOLUME I)
Seven minimalistic drone pieces for acoustic guitar with electronic bow and electronics, recorded live at the 18th century Palazzo Castagna in Città Sant’Angelo, Italy.
“Tabulatura is a 2008 indeterminate composition for sixteen pre-recorded guitar parts and computer with custom software. It is conceived as a system to generate different electro-acoustic patterns.”

Emiliano Romanelli was the co-founder of multimedia duo Tu’M , a project that was terminated in 2011. His works “are based on generative systems, and the perceptual relationships between sound and space”. This can also be felt with these Tabulatura pieces: the calm and floating atmosphere easily fills the room they are played in.
Tabulatura is released on cassette and as a 24/48 lossless download.


EMILIANO ROMANELLI – PATTERN # 22


 

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DreamScenes 2015-11

DreamScenes

Seductive Strings, Wordless Vocals, Sleepy Soundscapes, Deep Dreams and a Reassuring Ending.

Tracklist:

  • 00:00 DreamScenes – Intro (Susanna)
  • 00:31 From the Mouth of the Sun – Path for Air
    Into the Well, 2015
  • 04:38 Autistici – The Grotesque Physicality of Waiting
    Temporal Enhancement, 2015
  • 08:13 Cryxuss – Dazed
    Naviar Haiku 6, 2015
  • 14:45 Iskra String Quartet – Heliopause
    Iskra, 2015
  • 20:28 Jan Grünfeld – Come Gentle Spring, Come at Winter’s End
    Music for Plants, 2015
  • 23:46 Dronny Darko & Protou – Primate (50 Million Years Ago )
    Earth Songs, 2015
  • 29:28 Graveyard Tapes – Ruins (Caught in the Wake Forever Mix)
    I’m on Fire (White Rooms Remixes), 2015
  • 34:45 Max Richter – Path 5 (Delta)
    From Sleep (Bonus Disc), 2015 – please note: bonus disc sold out
  • 40:28 Stephan Mathieu – Stasis 8 (Kane’s Dream)
    Before Nostromo, 2015
  • 45:46 Gideon Wolf – Passenger Two
    Near Dark, 2015
  • 48:50 Me Raabenstein – Ad
    Language is a Spy, 2015
  • 52:18 Ken Camden – Renewal
    Dream Memory, 2015
  • 54:34 – Anne Garner – Wherever You Go
    Be Life, 2015
  • 58:36 DreamScenes – Outro (Pink Floyd)

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Jeff Bridges – Sleeping Tapes

Sleeping Tapes

Prepare for something remarkable.

Jeff Bridges will be remembered for a lot of different things and characters, but probably most of all for his performance of The Dude in The Big Lebowski.
Once you’ve seen that film, the image of The Dude will be forever linked to the way he looks, the way he moves, and – especially – the way he talks.

Now imagine Jeff – or The Dude, if you prefersitting right next to your bed, telling you stories like a granddad to his grandson would do … bedtime stories, memories he just seems to improvise on the spot, or even guided fantasies to help you doze off…
Would you be able to fall asleep?
Or would you fight off sleep to make sure you can listen to all he has to tell you?

On Sleeping Tapes“, Jeff Bridges sounds as if the texts he recites are improvised on the spot (which they probably aren’t). There’s a beautiful authenticity to this album because of the unpolished way he speaks, the way his wheezy voice, sometimes short of breath, is recorded.

Although Sleeping Tapes”  is presented as a spoken word album from Jeff Bridges, composer and sound designer Keefus Ciancia must get all props for the perfectly fitting musical background he has created.

Some parts of the album are quite tense – almost up to psychedelic. Calm and soothing  Bridges’ voice and tales may be – but sleeping will not be very easy with a soundscape like this that can get pretty haunting, like in “Sleep. Dream. Wakeup.”.
At other moments, you can almost feel the warm summer night around you.
And, should you be in need for some affirmation, you can simply play yourself “Feeling Good”:

“You’re very good at guessing when the traffic light will turn to green.”

Sleeping Tapes is presented on dreamingwithjeff.com, which is in fact an advertisement for Squarespace website design, who partnered in this project. It can be downloaded for free if you want – but it’s better not to because all profits are donated to No Kid Hungry (a campaign that connects kids in need with nutritious food and teaches their families how to cook healthy, affordable meals. The campaign also engages the public to make ending child hunger a national priority.”)

Simply donate $10 or more to receive an additional EP called (“Sleep Further”, which contains an extra 36 minutes of -instrumental- soundscapes).
There are physical editions available too, but of course they require a larger donation: $20 for a cassette tape, $50 for the vinyl album. If you got considerably more to spend, there are also limited edition vinyls or special boxed editions. Unfortunately, physical editions are only available in the United States..

“When I die there will be no burial or cremation.
I have contracted with spacemetary.
To store my remains on board an eternal satellite.
My body will forever loop around the planet and omit a flashing light whenever it passes over a memorable location.
Like that bar at Roundel Beach where we first met.
Or Ikea.”



JEFF BRIDGES – THE RAVEN/THE HEN/IKEA

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Anne Chris Bakker – Tussenlicht

Tussenlicht

The name may not immediately sound familiar, but Anne Chris Bakker should ring a bell if you carefully checked out the releases by Jan and Romke Kleefstra (internationally acclaimed for their Frysian soundscape poetry and Piiptsjilling collaboration with Machinefabriek and Mariska Baars).
Anne Chris Bakker
has worked with them on various releasesWink“, “Griis” and a live performance cassette released in March 2012.

Tussenlicht, recently released on Somehow Recordings  (where the physical version is available), is Anne Chris Bakker‘s second solo project (after “Weerzien”, 2012). Its dreamlike poetic atmosphere is definitely resembling the Piiptsjilling/Kleefstra recordings, and yet there is something remarkably different…

Together, the tracks tell a short story from their titles alone: “Winter”, “Tussenlicht” (‘Dusk’), “Trage Lichamen” (‘Slow Bodies’), “Ochtend” (‘Morning’).
The careful placement of sounds, the way the four tracks merge into a single composition that slowly but inevitably builds into a restrained climax (literally!) feels as if this could have been a spontaneous improvisation – but it isn’t, since all instruments are played by Anne Chris himself. And he obviously masters quite a few: from piano, guitar, bowed strings to electronics and field recordings.

Bakker carefully balances short melodic fragments and themes with stretched soundscapes that convey a feeling of timelessness.
This storytelling balance has a very special effect: although the album is only 37 minutes long, each time I listen to it I feels as if I have just woken up from a refreshingly deep sleep. Which makes me wonder: could this be the sonic version of the revolutionary Wake Up Light?

But, jokes aside: like the first Piiptsjilling albums in 2008/2009, this album is in danger of staying below radar and reaching only a small audience.
But (like those Piiptsjilling albums) it shouldn’t!
I really hope Tussenlicht” will find the wider international audience it deserves – because this is one of the most remarkable releases I have heard this year.

Don’t miss it.

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Mirrorring – Foreign Body

Mirrorring

Grouper (Liz Harris) is quite “Hot”.
And with that, I am not referring to the fact that she is female, which obviously is a rare feat in the male dominated world of ambient music (listeners, as well as musicians).

She’s ‘hot’ because she manages to appeal to a (relatively) large audience by merging different backgrounds, combining sleepy bedroom folk with laptop lo-fi and electronic minimalism.

Her recent performance (in my hometown) sold out quicky and raised a relatively fair amount of buzz. In her performance  she did not touch any guitar, did not sing any tune – she just shuffled and mixed some cassette-tape recordings into an uncompromisingly minimal, William Basinski-like set of “Sleep”  (from “Violet Replacement“).

Looking around and watching a silent (!) crowd (of about 150) listening to this slowly deteriorating piece, most of them with eyes closed, I could not help but wonder why I did not see most of these people at other ambient music performances.
Two days earlier I enjoyed a brilliant performance of Machinefabriek, Celer and Kleefstra-Bakker-Kleefstra – with only some 20 other people in the audience. Which was a shame, because this deserved to be heard by a lot more – I realised that most of this Grouper audience definitely would have enjoyed that performance too!

Most of Grouper’s previous recordings are not as minimal as this performance of “Sleep”. The fact that she’s crossing over from hazy bedroom electronics may very well be the reason why she guides her audience into the deep and sleepy realms of minimalist ambient music. Almost unnoticed..

Until yesterday, I had some doubts about reviewing Foreign Body”, a new release by Mirrorring (a duo featuring Liz ‘Grouper’ Harris and Jesy ‘Tiny Vipers’ Fortino (these two names together should obviously raise attention), because it’s not an ‘ambient’ album as most on this blog.

But with these thoughts about the recent Grouper performance in mind, I decided  this album was well worth the attention, because it will probably appeal to a lot of ambient music listeners, too.

So – how’s that for a lengthy introduction?

Foreign Body” is a Grouper/Tiny Vipers co-production that came about through a songwriting session in Portland, Oregon, in 2011.

Jesy and Liz work together in perfect harmony, each one adding to the other’s performance. Yet they have their own very personal style, which can be easily distinguished if you know any of the previous works of these performers.

The album opens with “Fell Sound” , which is mainly a Grouper track celebrating her distinct vague and sleepy style.

In style, this is quite different from the second track (“Silent from above”) which is “genuine Tiny Vipers“: Jesy’s tracks are firmly rooted in traditional folk and, accompanying herself with minimalistic repeating acoustic guitar theme, she has a bright, yearning voice to immediately fall in love with.

After these introductions, their respective style seems to merge into one perfect new sound, combining the dreamlike abstract with the utterly romantic. Like I said before, this has nothing to do with “ambient” music, apart from its uniquely strange, unearthly yet somehow familiar atmosphere. It is also worlds apart from the Sleep ambient music performanceBut, joining their forces on this release, Grouper  and Tiny Vipers nothing less but define a complete new sound, the kind of music that may help listeners cross over from “pop folk” to “ambient” – and vice versa.


Mirrorring – Drowning the Call

 

Spotify– (Also on Spotify)

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In the Bleak Wilderness of Sleep

Ambientblog


Bleak Wilderness of Sleep

Apart from releasing music as Spheruleus, Harry Towell also curates the Audio Gourmet netlabel, well-known for their now 40+ releases that all can be downloaded for free from Bandcamp (or from Archive.org when the Bandcamp credit runs out, but in that case I’d suggest donating a few dollars to keep them running).

Apart from these “tea/coffee-break” EP’s (all of them somewhere around 15 minutes in length), Audio Gourmet also has released a few full length albums (such as “Hidden Landscapes”). 

“In the Bleak Wilderness of Sleep”  (released may 2011) celebrates the first year of Audio Gourmet existence. And considering the contents of this compilation, Audio Gourmet has definitely found their place between the yop netlabels in the ambient/electronic/soundscape field!

“In the Bleak Wilderness of Sleep” presents a thoughtful and coherent selection of soundscape artists. 
Among them are familiar names like Francisco Lopez, Bartosz Dziadosz (a.k.a.Pleq), Michael Trommer, Small Things on Sundays, Spectra Ciera and (of course) Spheruleus.
Some of them were featured earlier on Audio Gourmet, others are new to the label.

The dark and almost inaudible beginning of the opening track ‘Pushing through Gray” (by Michael Trommer) sets the perfect tone for this collection,“curated and ordered to purposefully induce a state of sleep. Starting off minimally, gradually gathering tone and atmosphere, the experience goes on without ever boiling over or reaching a crescendo. Parts of the album are light and restful whereas traces of it tread darker territory. All in all, the imagery that the album conjurs sits perfectly as a soundtrack to the dreams one experiences during a nights sleep.”

The twelve tracks (73 minutes) on this album merge perfectly without suffering from too much ‘sameness’, indeed suggesting a ‘sleep cycle’ in sound. Avoiding the obvious ambient music cliché’s, this album is a great collection of contemporary Sound Art.

Either asleep or awake, this is an impressive birthday celebration from the label that grew up so quick!

As usual for limited releases like this, the physical edition has sold out quickly (only 7 left at the time of writing). But luckily, digital downloads edition will never run out!


Natalia Noelia Siebula & Bartosz Dziadosz – Ótta og kvíða

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Steiner – Untitled

Ambientblog


Steiner CD

I guess it must be something in the water in Belgium!?

This self-released CD-R from Steiner (Stijn Hüwels), does not only look like it could be a new release on the Slaapwel-label, it also sounds like one.
Which may not be very strange, considering that Stijn and Wim Maesschalk (Slaapwel records label owner) live in the same city and obviously know each other.

Untitled comes in a DIY cardboard sleeve, with unique original polaroid artwork. It is a single track, just short of half an hour, that was recorded during a sleepless night in 2010 using an electric guitar, ebow and laptop.

This music obviously is perfect for playing softly at night while falling asleep.
The guitar notes sound like a soft windchime, slowly resceding into the layered drones to divert your attention.

Perfect for insomniacs…but also for those that like to have gentle sounds playing in their environment, night OR day. 

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