Jeff Bridges – Sleeping Tapes

Imagine Jeff Bridges – or The Dude, if you prefer – sitting 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?

Anne Chris Bakker – 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…

Mirrorring – Foreign Body

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?

In the Bleak Wilderness of Sleep


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!

Machinefabriek – Halfslaap

Judged by its title ánd by its music, “Halfslaap”  (Half-Sleep) could have been a new release in the fascinating Slaapwel-series. But, surprisingly, it isn’t. This is part 6 of the Rural Route subscription series, as released by Standardform.org.

All issues of this series have been released on extremely limited (150 copies each) 3″CD’s, including a digital download of the music. 

But, to keep things exclusive (and satisfy collectors), the download option ends when the title is sold out!

Robert Rich – Somnium (App)


Somnium App

Robert Rich originally released Somnium in 2001 on DVD-Audio. The DVD format was dictated by the length of the three-part piece: it clocks in over 7 (SEVEN!) hours.

Apart from his vast catalogue of ambient music, Rich also is known for his unique Sleep Concerts in the 1980’s. Somnium was a logical follow up to these concerts: it was designed to guide you through a good night’s sleep.

Starting relatively ‘active’, then dozing off slowly into undisturbed deep sleep, before slowly becoming more lighter and ‘active’ again, Somnia could be the best medicine for anyone suffering insomnia.
(And that’s a big compliment in this context!).
But even when you’re not sleeping to it, it’s a pleasurable listen – although probably only few would sit out the entire album listening actively.  

Somnium has become a landmark monument of ambient drone music. Not only conceptually, but also because of the endless calm and beauty of the musical environment.  

Almost 10 years after its initial release, this project return in the (revolutionary?) form of an App Album. Designed to run endlessly on your iPhone/iPod, it can play uninterrupted for much longer than the original seven hours. It will simply run until you stop it, or until your iPhone/iPod batteries run out.

Sonmi451 – Ruis


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.

Isolate (Mix)


Muttley profile picture

Isolate is the first mix published on ambientblog.net created by a guest.

Muttley (Michael Buckingham) is actively maintaining the Subvert Central weblog (hosting 60+ mixes now!), and also contributed some mixes to the Low Light Mixes weblog that I’m sure you are all familiar with.

Isolate is a continuous mixtape focussing on drone tracks. It’s a great mix to listen to at night (and falling asleep to).

Peter Broderick – Music for a Sleeping Sculpture…


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:

Read post"Peter Broderick – Music for a Sleeping Sculpture…"

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.

Wouter van Veldhoven – Ruststukken

RustStukken

Wouter van Veldhoven ‘s Ruststukken is recently released on the new Belgian label ‘Slaapwel’.

Slaapwel means Sleep well.; Label owner Wim Maesschalck tells us:
“I set out, looking for people that would be good at making mind-soothing songs. I ask them to write a sleep-inducing record, I listen to it, and when I fail to reach the end because I fell asleep, I release it as a musical record with whatever means are available to me.”
Well that’s a heart-warming concept to me!

Sleep Research Facility – Deep Frieze

Deep Frieze

Sleep Research Facility should be credited for one of the best names in ambient music. Apart from that, Kevin Doherty was also responsible for the Nostromo release a few years ago. Nostromo was based on the first minutes of sound from the first Alien movie (Nostromo was the name of the spaceship) (*), and the music was as deep as outer space. (By the way: you cannot find this release anymore by now, but Cold Spring Records has announced a re-release later this year).