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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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Dronny Darko * Phonothek * Dead Melodies

Abduction

Abduction

DRONNY DARKO – ABDUCTION  Also on Spotify

If you like your soundscapes dark and haunting, full of suspense, Dronny Darko (from Kiev, Ukraine) will definitely fulfill your needs (as will most of the releases on the Cryo Chamber label).

Abduction is described as “merging the lowercase and minimal genre with a strong science fiction element.”
“Lowercase music”, Darko
 explaines, is a minimalistic sound art that “amplifies acoustic objects and paints collages with them. Those are sounds that we almost cannot hear with a naked ear. Something like the hum of the domestic sound system, ants rumbling, plants growing,  etc.”.

The result of this process can hardly be called ‘minimal’: it’s an overwhelming and irresistible plunge into the deep unknown, where “throbbing bass layers croak and groan under the pressure of whirling machines that buzz and hum.”


Phonothek - Red Moon

PHONOTHEK – RED MOON   Also on Spotify

Phonothek‘s second album for Cryo Chamber (the follow-up of last year’s Lost in Fogcontinues “the theme of the inevitable death of our planet”.
So here’s the image to keep in mind when you listen to the track Last Melody:

“A sad lonely trumpet echoes between ruined apartment complexes. The ground is dry and dusty, nothing grows here. Where once laughter of children lingered, now only the creak of broken swings remain. The earth is dying. The chosen got on the ships, but not you.” 

The Georgian duo (George Shamanauri and his wife Nina) mixes many genres without losing the desolate atmosphere: there’s dark ambient (obviously), but also David Lynch-like dark ambient-jazz – with a leading role for  the trumpet.
The latter  will not surprise you knowing George was (is) the principal trumpet in the Tbilisi State Opera Orchestra, the Tbilisi Symphony Orchestra and the Georgian Philharmonic, as well as a participating member in many other ensembles. Nina also studied at the Tbilisi State Conservatory, and continues to work in different projects.

For their work with Phonothek they developed a clear conceptual sound, one that isn’t usually taught at conservatories (though conservatories in Georgia might be different, I don’t know about that).
Their soundscapes are one of the most adventurous examples of ‘dark ambient’ soundscapes you will be able to find.
“It brings the sound of the old world to life as it shines light on the new and dying one.”


Dead Melodies

DEAD MELODIES – LEGENDS OF THE WOOD   Also on Spotify

Dead Melodies  (Tom Moore, UK)  come from the same stable: it’s his first album for Cryo ChamberBut it’s not a ‘debut’: over eight years Moore has released ten albums, EP’s and a large amount of collaborations making anything from dub to folk to ambient”.

With its lush field recordings and reverbed guitar, the musical approach is somewhat different – possibly taking its inspiration from English (foggy) landscapes. At least, in the beginning of this album.
There’s a ominous undercurrent in the music, and the eeriness soon takes over. Titles that tell tales of Crows and Blood, Devil’s Hill, the Hooded Nine and a Malevolent Rising will probably already have told you to stay on guard.

“The damp morning dew forms translucent drops on the knee-high grass. Whatever was out there last night seems gone but the birds are not yet singing and the animals still hiding.”
How’s that for  creating an atmosphere?

But rest assured (spoiler alert!): the last track is titled  Beautiful Coalescence. So no need to worry too much.

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Svarte Greiner * Franz Kirmann * Loren Nerell

Moss Garden

Moss Garden

SVARTE GREINER – MOSS GARDEN

Svarte Greiner is the solo project of (Deaf Center’s) Erik K. Skodvin. The music on his latest release was originally composed for an installation by Marit Følstadand is presented in two tracks: The Marble and Garden. With 21:53 and 19:20, the tracks have the perfect length for a vinyl release (there is no CD release planned, only vinyl and download) – but for those of us more digitally inclined some of the nostalgic crackles and pops are included in the mix.

The two slow-paced soundscapes are rather gloomy and dark.
In The Marble “a feeling of weightlessness covers the ground while empty space surrounds you in an embracing yet uneasy way. Time gradually illuminates several stages of light and dark before revealing a desolate wasteland filled with electric organisms”.
The suspense is intensified in the first half of Garden, with its increasingly loud metallic blows. When the drone of undertones slowly decays and morphs into its overtones, the nightmarish feeling retreats and peace returns. Somewhat.

This is soundscaping at its very best and perhaps even most intense.
Or, as the Miasmah promo text states so beautifully: Svarte Greiner‘s approach is ‘like the word Teriffic’s amelioration: developing from Terrifying over Intense to its modern understanding in a little more than two centuries – a metamorphosis re-enacted within a single recording.”


Franz Kirmann Elysian Park

FRANZ KIRMANN – ELYSIAN PARK

For his third album (and second title for Denovali), Franz Kirmann (one half of Piano Interrupted) uses sonic material that was created for his soundtrack of “Hyper Trophies” – a 2012 multimedia installation by Berlin art studio Zeitguised.
Using all kinds of sound sources (‘fragments from YouTube recuperated advertising, mangled pop samples, speech synthesis programs or digitally recreated ethnic instruments’), Kirmann creates an environment that is “made of ‘sonic junk’ that may feel abstract or alienating but also vaguely familiar”.

While all the pieces are rather abstract, without any traditional structures, ‘forcing the listener’s attention to focus on the physicality of the sound rather than any melodic, harmonic or rhythmical content’, there are two balancing extremes: calm on one side, harsh on the other. But all are crossing the line between the ‘real’ and the ‘virtual’.
Ultimately, Elysian Park reflects the search for a better, more peaceful place.

Also on Spotify

FRANZ KIRMANN – SCAVENGER


Venerable Dark Cloud

LOREN NERELL – THE VENERABLE DARK CLOUD

To protect myself from overload, this blog focuses on new and recent releases, and skips re-issues (sometimes with pain in my heart).
But there are exceptions, and this is one.
On the other hand, one could argue that this is a NEW release, since the original 1999 release with the same title only featured 4 tracks with a total length of 22 minutes. AND it has been long out of print!
This 2016 edition, however, is 69 minutes long and is extended to eight tracks. AND it’s available!

What may be even more important is that none of these tracks show any sign of age. This is classic fourth world ambient music, merging Indonesian Gamelan sounds with electronic soundscapes.
Loren Nerell, who has a master’s degree in ethnomusicology, reveals that the album titles comes from the translation of Kyai Mendung, the name of the UCLA Javanese gamelan ensemble. In the belief of Animism, everything has a soul. It is thought that the spirit of the gamelan ensemble resides in its largest gongs. 

“What would it be like to be a soul or spirit inside a gong? You would not think in human ways but maybe in gamelan tones. This album is how I imagine it would be to be that gong.”

If you ever experienced the sound of a full gamelan orchestra you will probably not find this a strange thought at all. The sounds of the gongs, as well as their specific scales and tuning awakens a mysterious awareness on a subconscious level. It is beautiful to listen to, but for western ears it also seems to come from a different, incomprehensible world.

Loren Nerell is capable of connecting these worlds, crossing different cultures and opening the mysteries of the gamelan orchestra for western listeners without denying the culture it originally came from.

Also on Spotify

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Sonmi451 * Machinefabriek /+ Banabila * Legiac

Crumble

Alice

SONMI451 – ALICE

From Belgium comes Bernard Zwijzen‘s Sonmi451named after one of the main characters in David Mitchell’s novel “Cloud Atlas“.
Ever since 2005 Sonmi451 produced a steady stream of albums (some of which you may already know from this blog).
Alice is his 11th full album, this time self-released and available from Bandcamp only.

With a title like this the association is obvious and that is confirmed by titles like I Didn’t Know That Cats Could Grin or How Queer Is Everyting Today. Step into the wondrous world of Lewis Carrol’s Alice In Wonderland to enjoy a beautiful and colourful world where not everything is what it seems.

The tones are soft and warm, the music is adventurous yet without threats. A place you will want to dwell in, especially with the Japanese ‘Alice’ (soft whispered fragments from works of Haruki Murakami) guiding you through the enigmatic and colourful landscape to make sure you don’t accidentally step on something delicate and vulnerable.


Macrocosms

MICHEL BANABILA & MACHINEFABRIEK – MACROCOSMS

Their fourth collaborative album shows Michel Banabila and Machinefabriek in a playful mood, somewhat less abstract than on their previous album Error Log.
Macrocosms radiates the joy of swapping sound files and surprising each other in turn with an unexpected twist of the material: field recordings from the Biala Woda nature reserve in Poland, musique concrête, noise, ambient, ‘fourth world’ samples, ‘Holger Czukay style’ sped up guitars, and whatnot…

“The overall theme deals with the macro and micro – how incredibly tiny and insiginificant we become when zooming out, and how wondrous small worlds can be found within ours when zooming in.” 

Michel and Rutger are a perfect pair: two giants of Dutch experimental music, combining the best of many worlds. Abstract experimentalism, cinematic romanticism, impressionistic environmentalism… it’s all in the details that merge into a recognisable trademark style and manages to surprise with every new release.
Also on Spotify


CrumbleMACHINEFABRIEK with ANNE BAKKER and EDITH KARKOSCHKA – CRUMBLE

The first few minutes of soft strings and electronic are a misleading introduction. After three minutes the music suddenly turns into a frightening bombardment of noise particles that lasts for more than 10 minutes. Only if you brace yourself you will hear the details within that sonic storm.
At the end of that sequence – almost unheard from the back of the noise wall – a new theme is introduced. The storm dies down, and is followed by a calm section featuring spoken words and poetry by Edita Karkoscha. The piece ends with an even calmer part where violinist Anne Bakker takes the lead.

Rutger ‘Machinefabriek‘ Zuydervelt has worked with Anne Bakker before (memorable releases like Deining and Halfslaap), but Crumble is quite different in nature and concept.
This is not an ‘easy’ piece to listen to; it requires full attention before it releases its rewarding secrets.
I have been wondering what Machinefabriek was actually trying to achieve here, with the dramatic turns and the enormous contradictions within one single piece.
I thought of the (unintentional) conceptual resemblance with Irreversible, Gaspar Noé‘s unforgettable movie that starts with a shocking climax and from there tells its story in backwards, reverse-chronological, order.
The movie’s tagline: “Time destroys everything” –  ultimately, everything will start to crumble.


Legiac

LEGIAC – THE VOYNICH MANUSCRIPT

Roel Funcken (core member of Funckarma and prolific Dutch musician, producer and DJ) has teamed up with Cor Bolten (member of the legendary Dutch art-wave band Mecano) to form Legiac.
This their third release: preceded by Mings Feaner (2007) and The Faex Has Decimated (2015, parts of which were recently remixed on this album).
The Voynich Manuscript has found a home on the Dronarivm label – a quality indication in itself.

Legiac‘s soundscapes are described as ‘mildly glitch-infused, modular explored sounds, weaving in ambient textures, field recordings and vast soundscapes.’
The title(s) are taken from a 15th century hand-written and illustrated codex – a mysterious text that raises a lot of unanswered questions about its content. You’ll have to use your imagination to link the music to tis 15th century mystery, because it’s not exactly mediaeval music you’re listening to. But they are mysterious in their own way.
The Voynich Manuscript combines 21st century soundscapes with subtle retro analogue sequencer sounds, merging the skills and experience of two prolific and experienced experimental artists.

Also on Spotify

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Steve Roach & Robert Logan; Phonothek; Erik Wøllo & Byron Metcalf

Second Nature

Second Nature

STEVE ROACH & ROBERT LOGAN SECOND NATURE
Second Nature is part of a set of two distinctively different albums released simultaneously.
Biosonic, the twin album, focuses on ‘elegant futurism: a labyrinth of bio-electrical rhythmic pieces mixed with passages of deep drifting textural magnetism’, while Second Nature is filled with ‘romantic minimalism: nuanced, sparse, ambient-atmospherics and processed-piano tone paintings’.
In short, they both serve quite a different mood.

In a way, it’s a meeting of two generations and Anglo-American cultures: 28-year-old (England-based) Robert Logan has been a fan of 61-year-old (American) ambient performer Steve Roach ever since he was 13 years old.

From these two albums, Second Nature is my favourite because of it’s dreamlike tranquility; the way Roach‘s vintage analog synths, live looping, mixing and effects processing merge with Logan‘s (processed) electric grand piano playing.  The 70 minutes of music are divided in four tracks: two long (22/32 minutes), and two relatively short (8-10 minutes).


Lost in Fog

PHONOTHEK – LOST IN FOG
“Recommended as a companion for sleepless nights”…. I’m not sure about that, personally, since the overall sound of this album is rather dark and might not really help you to feel comfortable enough to fall asleep. But if you have no desire to fall asleep soon you might very well enjoy its companionship: it’s a fascinating cinematic sound indeed, created using, vinyl crackles, echoes, bowed strings and horns.

Phonothek is a (‘male/female’) duo from Georgia, Europe (further details unknown); their sound is recognisable European in its resemblances to names like Bohren & der Club of Gore, Kilimanjaro Dark Jazz Ensemble and their music revealing influences from the experimental artists recording for the Crammed/Made to Measure series.

Like ‘new age’, ‘dark ambient’ is a dangerous label because it may scare away some listeners, the tag evokes possible prejudices about dolphin sounds (in the former) or monk chants (in the latter).
Don’t let such a prejudice misguide you: there’s none of this here – and you would definitely miss out of a great atmospheric, David Lynchian ambient-jazz album.

Also on Spotify


Earth Luminous

ERIK WØLLO & BYRON METCALF – EARTH LUMINOUS
Speaking of genre tags: Erik Wøllo usually operates at the lighter side of the ambient spectrum (and I deliberately avoid the use of ‘new age’ here since that doesn’t really do justice to his music).
The Norwegian composer/musician has been active since 1980, covering a wide range of styles, from rock to jazz to ambient music.
On this album, he pairs his widespread synthscapes to the tribal percussion of Byron Metcalf, who’s career spans over 40 years and many different genres. Ambient music devotees may know his name from his work with Steve Roach.
Metcalf‘s beautifully recorded ‘shamanic’ rhythm patterns add a steady, earthly beat to Wøllo ‘s ethereal, floating ambient – “a sound flowing freely along with the currents all the time balancing the dark with the light.”

Also on Spotify


Star's End 2015
ERIK WØLLO – SILENT CURRENTS 4
This hour-long live-set, originally recorded for the Star’s End radio show on Philadelphia’s WXPN, shows a somewhat different side of Erik Wøllo.
On his Silent Currents series (which are all live-sets for Star’s End, by the way), Wøllo explores the more abstract, minimal side of ambient soundscapes.
This is ‘classic’ ambient, firmly rooted in the ambient music of the seventies’ (but without the sequenced arpeggio’s)

“I think the interesting things happen below the surface where everything has a slow, suspended character. Like a deep river flowing unnoticed, motion happening in the undercurrents, or tidal water flowing in the opposite direction of the top flow.”

Also on Spotify

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Multicast Dynamics; Tobias Freund & Valentina Berthelon; Mario Gronnert; Richard Eigner

Mario Gronnert

Multicast Dynamics - Outer Envelopes

MULTICAST DYNAMICS – OUTER ENVELOPES
The fourth and final part in a series of releases that ‘explores organic and aqueous worlds in a dreamlike and spiritual appearance’.

After Scape, Aquatic System and ScandinaviaSamuel van Dijk takes off into outer space.
‘He sends a time capsule out into a fictional space, exploring the unknown and placing sonic beacons which create eerie soundscapes and detailed textures. Together with airy pads and dark shuffling rhythms, these elements form dynamic sequences which display the sonic and embody the thematic evolution of the Multicast Dynamics project.’

In more than one way the music resembles some of the best work of Geir ‘Biosphere’ Jenssen: the dubby rhythm combined with a blanket of electronic layers.. But if there’s one thing that this series of album proves it is that it is not simply a copy, but the work of someone creating new originals with the use of noise generators, modular synths and ‘experiments with voltage’ .

Each of these albums stand up very well on its own, but of course the full evolutionary concept is best enjoyed when the four albums are played sequentially.

Outer Envelopes is concluded with a dub-techno re-shape of the title track by VC-118A – one of Samuel van Dijk‘s other aliases. It concludes the 4-cd series that moved ‘from an evolutionary to a cosmological scale’ – and might very well be a promising glimpse of the direction Samuel van Dijk‘s next venture might take.

Also on Spotify

MULTICAST DYNAMICS – SONAR


Recent Arts

TOBIAS FREUND & VALENTINA BERTHELON – RECENT ARTS
Tobias Freund is a German experimental musician with a long history of experience in music (even dating back to 1980 when he worked as an engineer in the high-end studio of German producer Frank Farian). In his later works he explores the musical areas between Acid, Ambient and Techno, all of it with a focus on the live approach. He has worked together with Max Loderbauer, Ricardo Villalobos and Uwe ‘Atom™’ Schmidt (among many others).
Max Loderbauer also helped develop the Max/MSP application that was built for this Recent Arts project: ‘a  “Loop Based Computer Controlled Engine” that repeats and processes sounds in a free and natural way – which feels like listening to the flowing water of a creek, or to the sound of the wind.’

For Recent Arts, Freund teams up with Chilean visual artist Valentina Berthelon (who is currently living in Berlin).
Primarily, Recent Arts is an audio-video liveshow manipulating sound and image in realtime, the video is as important as the audio.
This album version, of course, displays only the audio component of such a show. But it’s impressive enough, even without the videos.
Nonetheless, checking more examples of Berthelon‘s video art, I’d say that this project also deserves to have a DVD-version including the videos for these tracks!


Tobias Freund & Valentina Berthelon – Emptiness Syndrome

Tobias Freund & Valentina Berthelon – Zero Theorem


Mario Gronnert

MARIO GRONNERT AND COMMONSEN5E – NIGHTMARES AND DREAMSCAPES: SILHOUETTES OF URBIA
Collaboration album of Mario Gronnert (Germany) and Mason ‘CommonSen5e’ Metcalf (Portland, USA).
Mario Gronnert had some musical experience in a progressive rock project named Aera before he decided he wanted to be a ‘one man music project’ and finally found his home in ambient music. Since his initial release in 2012, this is his fourth full album.
The Nightmares and Dreamscapes are rather dark and abstract ‘urban’ soundscapes with an occasional glimpse of light shining through near the end of the album.

“It is shaped, driven and originally inspired by the imagination of a journey by two individuals, beginning in a kind of post apocalyptic city. They are following the dark and foggy and ashy urban streets and railways to find a sign of light and hope for a new beginning at the end”

The opener, Breathing the Ash, is a 22 minute (nightly) walk through the unfamiliar city, the remaining six tracks are shorter pieces  (3 – 7 minutes)


Richard Eigner - When the Days

RICHARD EIGNER – WHEN THE DAYS ALL TIP FROM NESTS AND FLY DOWN ROADS
This is the second release in Crónica’s ongoing Corrolaries series, a collection of works resulting from a collaborative residency curated by Simon Whetham in Mooste, Estonia (the first was  this one by Yiorgis Sakellariou).
Released as a Name-Your-Price download, they are a perfect way to discover the various ways that environmental recordings can be transformed into sound art soundscapes.

When the Days…‘ is constructed from Field recordings made in Mooste and its surroundings, “which was especially appealing for the contrasts between nature and derelict and abandoned structures from the soviet area. My aim was to convey the atmosphere I was absorbed in, wandering around in solitude in the landscape almost devoid of human presence.”
And that atmosphere is perfectly captured!

Environmental sound recordings can be used to re-create a certain atmosphere, if you record them well and leave them as close to the source as they can be.
But that is not the purpose of these projects, of this album. When listening to them, you hear music, not just sound.
That’s precisely what Edgar Varèse meant when he defined ‘music’ as ‘organized sound’.

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Autistici; Aidan Baker; David Cordero; Markus Guentner

El Rumor Del Oleaje

AUTISTICI – TEMPORAL ENHANCEMENT
David Newman – also label owner of Audiobulb is a composer from Sheffield, UK, releasing his own work as Autistici – the name ‘represents this fascination with tiny sounds and the power they have to overwhelm the central sensory experience’.
Temporal Enhancement
, his eighth full CD release, presents six tracks with a wealthy variation of ‘broken sounds’ assembled into abstract ambient soundscapes.
‘A sonic exploration of the perception of time’.

“Temporal space in between each sound populates the narrative of present and past. The brain relies on memory to bring order and meaning to the sequence and to notice changes across the passage of time. […]
Autistici works on the premise that the true and final experience of any sound belongs in the mind’s ear of the listener.”


Also on Spotify


Aidan Baker - Ecliptic Plane

AIDAN BAKER – ECLIPTIC PLANE
“As a solo artists, Aidan Baker explores the deconstructive sonic possibilities of the electric guitar as a primary sound source.”
Ecliptic Plane – the title referring to ‘the Sun’s apparent path or orbit around the Earth, as seen from a terrestrial perspective’ – is a live-to-2-track recording of ‘multi-layered guitar loops slowly evolving and gradually changing through the course of their repetition’.
There are six segments, all different in nature and expression – but they are sequenced seamlessly and so are best listened in one continuous session.
I was quite surprised to learn that this was a direct recording of a live-performance! It’s an impressive and beautiful set, exploring different ranges of sounds between subtle and massive – from calm to (almost) frightening.


El Rumor Del Oleaje

DAVID CORDERO – EL RUMOR DEL OLEAJE [release date: 15-01-16]
For El Rumor Del Oleaje (‘the rumor of the seas’), David Cordero travelled to the beaches between Bizkaia and Cadiz (from the North to the South of Spain), to record the different sounds of water. These sounds became the starting point of this album:
‘All of us confront the sea in different ways, being that not all of the waves are the same.’
Seas can be dangerous and frightening, but Cordero focuses on its healing effect: ‘the feeling of being at peace with myself and isolation. to render through these songs the healing impact the waves have on me when I face them.’
As a result, this is a very peaceful and ‘sunny’ album.

The sound of waves and water are the inspiration to subtle musical compositions, most for a full ensemble acoustic setting featuring piano, bass clarinet, french horn, double bass, (like La Caseriá – San Fernando) others (near the end of the album) for more synth oriented textures and loops (Gaztelugatze – Bermeo).
‘This album is an invitation to travel to the seashores and start the adventure of looking at the sea as if it were for the first time, surrendered to a lonely and magical fascination’


Theia

MARKUS GUENTNER – THEIA
Theia is the name of the (hypothetical) planet that supposedly collided with Earth around 4.533 billion years ago – one assumption is that the debris gathered together around Earth to form the moon.
That’s a beautiful thematic starting point for Markus Guentner‘s newest album: a double (opaque) vinyl release on A Strangely Isolated Place.
“Drones build upon swathes of light, cut by an ever-present sense of fear. The distant shine of stars puncture a pitch-black canvas, as a force gathers momentum and intensifies”.
There are more than enough quiet moments, but as the album progresses the atmosphere gets darker and more ominous. But the sound palette remains subtle: it never becomes the ear-shattering noise you might have expected with a theme like that.
Rafael Anton Irisarri mastered the album, and also appears (as The Sight Below) on one track (Baryon). 

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Darren McClure; Randall Collier-Ford; Flowers for Bodysnatchers; E.U.E.R.P.I.

Apperception

DARREN MCCLURE – APPERCEPTION
Born in Ireland but currently living in Matsumoto, Japan, Darren McClure ‘intents to create sound to both zone out to and zone into, a balance of widescreen drones and more minimal, abstract ambience’.
Living in Japan must have sharpened his eye (and ear) for subtle details, which he’s able to re-create in his fascinating sound art ambience.
Apperception” means ‘the process of understanding by which newly observed qualities of an object are related to past experience’.
Each of the (six) pieces has a distinctly different atmosphere.
It’s interesting to realise that this music may mean different things to every single listener, because of the connection of the sounds with individual past experiences.


Remnants

RANDALL COLLIER-FORD – REMNANTS
Cryo Chamber specializes in releasing ‘Cinematic Dark Ambient’ , and with this Randall Collier-Ford release that is exactly what you get: 10 tracks of dark and brooding isolationist soundscapes that slowly seem to pull you underground.
To take away any possible prejudice against ‘dark ambient’: ‘we’re not talking about the ‘new-age dark ambient’ kind with monks, Gregorian chants, church-bells and such, mind you, but  about carefully crafted, haunting soundscapes that would work perfectly as a background for suspenseful (horror? sci-fi?) movies or scary video-games.
‘Deep high quality with a cinematic edge’   – a great release and a good example of Cryo Chamber’s shared philosophy of sound design.


Also on Spotify


Aokigahara

FLOWERS FOR BODYSNATCHERS – AOKIGAHARA
With its lovely piano themes, this album seems to be much less dark than the average Cryo Chamber release. But sounds are deceiving, because there is bottomless deep darkness underneath:
Aokigahara is the name of a 35-square-kilometre forest at the northwest base of Mount Fuji in Japan. It is a notoriously common suicide site, also referred to as the Suicide Forest, and has an historu association with demons in Japanese mythology.

Knowing about this background, Duncan (Flowers of Bodysnatchers) Ritchie‘s album of atmospheric textural layers gets a different meaning.  Now, the piano themes only enhance the loneliness instead of soothing it.
(Of course titles like A Rope To End It All also help create the right expectations)

“Aokigahara forest is dense, shutting out all but the natural sounds of the forest itself.”
Venture into it too deep far may mean you’ll find yourself ‘past the edge unable to return.”


Also on Spotify


EUERPI

E.U.E.R.P.I. – SPACE AND ANIMALS
With a minimal setup – guitar and software effects – Myrian Kolev (Sofia, Bulgaria) creates some fine relaxing soundscapes. Avoiding the obvious pitfalls – like re-creating the usual ‘frippertronics’ or too obvious drones – he creates his own personal, minimal and repetitive, style, transcending the usual guitar ambient.
The result is some nice, unobtrusive music to play in the background, at the same time interesting enough for more attentive listening.
And that is why this might also appeal to a somewhat larger audience than most ambient music. If that audience can find it, of course….

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FrostbYte (Daniel Blinkhorn) – One Dog Night

Frostbyte - One Dog Night

One look on his website is enough to know that Daniel Blinkhorn (Australia) is an avid collector of ‘ecoacoustic’ fieldrecordings: you’ll find sounds and photos from the Arctic, Africa, Alaska, Amazon, the West Indies and miscellaneous other countries.
Environmental sounds and ecoacoustic composition are his prime medium – but the resulting soundscapes are way beyond ‘manipulated fieldrecordings’:
‘Through the use of varied digital sound manipulation environments, I strive to sculpt a language extant within perception, alteration and diffusion of environmental sound, and the inextricable, organic bonding of place and space within its origins.’

For One Dog Nightthe basic material was recorded throughout the Arctic Region of Svalbard (Spitsbergen) – one of the world’s northernmost inhabited areas up north between the mainland of Norway and the Northpole.
And, yes, it’s cold up there: the title One Dog Night ‘refers to an adage once used to describe how cold the temperature could drop at night. If it was a particularly cold night, it may have been appropriate to have one, two, even three of your dogs on the bed with you to help keep you warm as you slept!’

The area ‘is renowned for its visual and cinematic beauty’, but also ‘there’s a great deal of sonic activity, both animal and aqueous, and the FrostbYte cycle of works seeks to portray some of there sonorities in a highly abstracted, yet clearly discernable way.’

The result is highly acousmatic: the sounds are so detached from their origins that they seem to represent an entirely different world.
The FrostbYte Cycle consists of four different pieces: Red Sound (recordings taken from a day at the hut and its surrounds), Chatter (created with open air and hydrophone recordings of iceberg and iceberg fragments as they melt, collide and dissolve), Wildflower (field recordings from the high arctic recordings) and Anthozoa (for prepared piano and a composite recording of coral – the latter recorded in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and off the coast of Barbados in the West Indies).

It’s worth noting that this Audiobulb release is available in different formats: apart from the Bandcamp (stereo) version, which you can hear below, Audiobulb also offers AC3 and PCM high resolution surround versions.
If you have the possibility to listen to the surround versions, I highly recommend choosing these, because Blinkhorn delivers his compositions as full (discrete channel) surround compositions – with amazing sonic result!
You’re definitely a lucky person if you have the possibility to enjoy the surround versions, but that doesn’t mean the stereo versions aren’t worth checking out too!
Just listen for yourself, and discover new, hitherto unexplored, sonic areas!   

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Ebauche; Todd Tobias; Arash Akbari; Darren McClure & Jose Soberanes

Vanishing Point

ebauche - adrift

EBAUCHE – ADRIFT
Alex Leonard (Ebauche) used to live in Dublin, Ireland,  but is currently based in Zakopane, Poland. So when he uses field recording to colour his soundscapes his obvious choices are the northern coastline of Ireland and the forest of the Carpathian mountains in Poland. But Adrift also contains locations recordings from the Kirirom national park and the ancient temples of the Angkor WatCambodia.
The result is a lush journey, covering half the globe.
“Lush drones underpin layers of intricate details, a minutiae of sonic touches which rise to the surface and drift away again, moving the listener through the soundscape in an almost hypnotic way.”


Tristes TropiquesTODD TOBIAS – TRISTES TROPIQUES
For Tristes Tropiques (‘Sad Tropics’), Todd Tobias “sought to evoke far-fung places where indigenous cultures have either vanished or are in the process of being swallowed up by an ever-expanding global civilization”.
The inspiration for this album (as well as its title) comes from the 1955 book by french anthropologist Claude Levi Strauss.
Do not expect to hear tropical field recordings and ambient drones here: these are atmospheric, melancholic, instrumental sound-paintings with “a luxuriant yet downcast tone”.
Todd Tobias
is a multi-instrumentalist and producer known for his production work for Guided by Voices and collaborating with Robert Pollard. This is his fourth solo-recording.
release date: june 9, 2015! 



TODD TOBIAS – MARAYOOR


Vanishing PointARASH AKBARI – VANISHING POINT
This is my first acquantaince with Arash Akbari (from Iran), and it’s a surprise to find out that this is already his fourth soloalbum.
Listening to the album it’s immediately clear that this is not Akbari’s first exercise in the field of ambient music: its sound is mature an very well balanced.
Graced with a beautiful cover painting, this album “nestles into inbetween places, revelling in the indistinct, the delicate and the mysterious.”
Akbari’s guitar and electronics merge perfectly with the (hardly perceptible) background of Iranian field recordings, but this does not mean this album pinpoints itself geographically: its sound is definitely global.
“This is a late night album, an album which soothes, a set of sounds to think to.”


Shelter

DARREN McCLURE & JOSE SOBERANES – SHELTER
Speaking about ‘global’: this collaboration between Darren McClure (living in Japan) and  Jose Soberanes (Mexico) is released on the Éter label, based in Colombia. In these six soundscapes field recordings – particularly birdsong – play a more prominent part, used as extra instruments. But the music and effects add to the ‘enhanced’ reality of these varied soundscapes.

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