Human Greed – Fortress Longing

When waiting for this album to arrive, I have wondered about its strange subtitle: “The internal campaign for the safe and complete return of the sleeping egyptian to the desert”. 

How to prepare for an album about a sleeping egyptian craftsman, waiting endlessly in the British Museum, dreaming about his return to find rest under his lost ‘blanket of sand‘…?

I had no real doubts, of course, considering the preceding Human Greed albums, and Michael Begg‘s contribution to the Fovea Hex projects,  as well as his Fragile Pitches’ collaboration project with Colin Potter.

But, to be honest, I was somewhat reserved about this album’s mythological theme and the effect it might have on the music.

Wil Bolton, Benjamin Dauer, Savaran, Roger Martinez, Karl Verkade

In this “shortlist” section, I will mention some of the albums that I enjoyed listening to, but couldn’t find the time (or the right words) for a “full” review for.
Still, I think they deserve your attention (use the links to find more info and hear previews).

Melt cover

Wil Bolton – Melt
Another great release in the Rural Colours subscription series, perfectly timed for the spring and summer season.
“‘Melt’ is a single long-form track of warm, overlapping tones created with a toy keyboard, a synthesizer, analogue delay and looper pedals, and some minimal laptop processing. Glitches and signal problems were welcomed into the process, shrouding the fragmented yet lyrical keyboard melodies in a gentle mist of fuzz, clicks and hiss.”

Saturation Event

Benjamin Dauer – Saturation Event
“..A series of explorations in tape saturation – that place where the audio begins to slightly fall apart – not harsh digital distortion, but rather, that warm and blurry type of analog distortion only possible w/tape (or tape emulation). As you listen, at times the audio in the lower frequencies might fall apart while the upper register remains crystal clear. On others you might not notice anything but maybe the slightest hint of added analog warmth.”

Siddhartha Barnhoorn – Pillars of Light

Pillars of Light

Pillars of Lightis Siddhartha Barnhoorn‘s first full album, but it can hardly be called a ‘debut’.

Although relatively young (born 1981 in Katwijk aan Zee, Holland), he has produced numerous film scores since 2004. Producing over 50 film scores in the last five years (!), not counting documentaries, trailers, commercials and other project, he obviously is not afraid of working hard too!

As a fan of atmospheric ambient music (which is not a strange thing when you’re a contextual composer), he decided to create his own independent album: Pillars of Light

Janek Schaefer – Asleep at the Wheel…

Janek Schaefer’s website presents an impressive list of site-location projects that are very interesting to investigate, because they demonstrate Schaefer’s perfect balance of concept, visual and sound.
(A few of them, Unfolding and Extended Play, were presented on Ambientblog earlier).

As the Artist in Residence for the 2010 Milton Keynes International Festival, Schaefer presented Asleep at the Wheel…’: a location project for which he completely transformed the deserted Sainsbury’s supermarket into a three-lane highway at night, a ‘ghost road of cars’, where the audio is played from the in-car sound systems. From the car seats, visitors could listen to presentations and interviews thematically dealing with sustainability and the future of the earth, and how we can be able to improve that future. 

“The exhibition is a thought provoking and immersive sound installation for multiple car radios, that contemplates our future. Exhibited in a vast disused supermarket, three-lanes of cars dissect the darkened interior, as the multiple hazard lights illuminate the space, revealing the finite road of our consumer driven daydream.”

Nigel Samways, Le Berger, Herzog, Ambient Fabric, Seconds Before Awakening

This is the first in a forthcoming series of  “Shortlist”-entries. In these Shortlists, I will mention some of the albums that I enjoyed listening to, but couldn’t find the time (or the right words) for a “full” review for.
Still, I think they deserve your attention: use the links to find more info and hear previews.

Nigel Samways - Nine Barrow Down

Nigel Samways – Nine Barrows Down
20 minute EP with a haunting soundscape referring to “a teenage experience of potentially baffling and unexplained origins whilst alone at night in the Dorset countryside.”

Le Berger - Expeditions

Le Berger – Expeditions on the Greyscale
Subtitled “One Tiny, Two Medium and a Grand One”, referring to the length of the four tracks: 00:11, 11:11, 11:11 and 33:33, respectively. 
Beautiful minimal drone/loop set by Le Berger (Samuel Landry  from Montreal, Qc), with obvious references to the work of ‘deteriorist’ William Basinski.

Pleq – Ambientblog Mix

Ambientblog proudly presents a new “Guest mix”,  contributed by Bartosz Dziadosz a.k.a. Pleq

After reviewing his latest releases, I did not hesitate when Bartosz asked me if he could contribute a mix to the ambientblog podcasts.

This Pleq Ambientblog mix is not a mix of his own music, but a mix of Various Artists that gives great insight in the kind of music that inspires Pleq.

It kicks in fairly heavy with the high pitched noise of Go Koyashiki’s “Silhouette”, which when it suddenly drops feels like it has prepared your mind to ‘open up’ for the sounds to follow.

Bartosz’ mix balances the almost industrial electronic sounds with the more organic romanticism of (for example) Library Tapes, Max Richter and Spyweirdos.  

Before closing the mix, two previously unreleased tracks are included: a collaboration with Hakobune and another with Natalia Noeila Siebula. 

Dawn Secrets (Mix)

What exactly happens at the moment night changes back into day again, when darkness slowly retreats and light comes back in? 
Are we aware of what happens outside, at that time of day most of us are still sleeping? 
What sort of animals or creatures are hiding from the light, and what sort finally dare to come out again? 
Would we discover “Dawn Secrets” when we’d leave our own safe and familiar surroundings?

To be honest, I did not start this mix with this theme in mind…it just ‘dawned’ on me when listening to it when it was almost finished…But from the start, I wanted this mix to have a strong ‘environmental’ feel (but not only include field recordings).

Various Artists – "Hidden Landscapes"

Hidden Landscapes

The Audio Gourmet netlabel, run by Harry Towell – a.k.a.Spheruleus- quickly became one of the major netlabels on the ambient music scene.  At time of writing, their impressive catalogue presents about 30 releases, most of them E.P.’s, around 15 minutes long, and thus created to fit your daily coffee/tea break perfectly. 

Though Audio Gourmet have a clear policy about what they want and what they don’t want (no beats!), the musical horizon broadens with every release. For example, the forthcoming release by Paper Relics  (Harry and Stuart Towell), ‘Recovered Artefact’would be better described as ‘improv folk guitar’ than ambient music.

Various Artists – Underwater Noises

Apart from creating his own fascinating music (like the beautiful Poor Henriette Marie’  EP, released on Hibernate), Nigel Samways also runs the Ephre Imprint label, releasing electro-acoustic drone, ambient and experimental music. 

Underwater Noises is Ephre Imprint‘s latest compilation, a joint release with the Lost Children netlabel:

“The theme running through all tracks of this work is ‘water’ (and its numerous concerns risen around the globe). Each artist was prompted to submit a track inspired somehow by the notion of water, according to their individual angle. The upshot is a multilayered work, giving voice to the umpteen facets of a theme which has always created a particularly deep and serious attraction for musicians working in the drone/ambient scene.”

At the first glance on the tracklist of this compilation I knew that there was a complete new world for me to discover, since all of the artists included were unknown to me…!

Mendel Kaelen – Remembering What Was Forgotten

Mendel Kaelen RWWF

The first minutes of Mendel Kaelen‘s “Remembering What Was Forgotten”  are perfectly in line with its cover image: building from silence, slowly out of nothing, but gradually becoming clearer, crescending into an immersive and overwhelming wave of sound… before fading back to eternal rest.

The near 70 minutes of this album seem to breathe an immersive calm, the sound of nature’s inevitability…maybe also the sound of ‘Satori, a Buddhist term for ” a flash of sudden awareness, or individual enlightenment”.

Matthew Florianz – Koude Handen

Koude Handen

Along with two other (dutch!) musicians Machinefabriek and Michel Banabila, Matthew Florianz is one of the three “all time favourite artists” in my profile.
This obviously means I was eagerly awaiting the release of Matthew’s new album “Koude Handen” (“Cold Hands”), his follow up to 2008’s Maalbeek

“Koude Handen” is presented as a free download from Matthew’s website – available as high bitrate MP3 or even as 24 bit FLAC (which, mind you, is even a better bitrate than standard CD can provide!). The album page also offers the complete artwork, as well as some beautiful promo videos.
And, to celebrate the release of this new album, Matthew also offers his previous release “Maalbeek” as a free download!

Solo Andata – Ritual

Although their debut “Fyris Swan” was released in 2006, Solo Andata gained the recognition they deserved with the release of the Solo Andata” album on the 12k label in 2009.

The fact that their work was mastered by Taylor Deupree and Giuseppe Ielasi – household names in the world of ambient / electronic music – will probably have helped to attract the attention, but the music created by Kane Ikin and Paul Fiocco in itself was (is) impressing enough to immediately classify Solo Andata as ‘classic material’ of ambient soundscapes. 

Their new album, “Ritual” is the debut release of a brand new label: Desire Path Recordings.
And what a debut it is to start a new label with!

Minamo & Lawrence English: A Path Less Travelled

Together with the recent release of Rafael Anton Irisarri  another recent Room40 release came to my attention: “A Path Less Travelled by Minamo and Lawrence English.

An album very well titled, since the five sonic electro-acoustic pieces on this album are indeed uncovering some musical ‘paths less travelled’

Fluid Radio Mix

fluid radio

If you check out the Fluid Radio Mixcloud playlist,you’ll find a lot of familiar names: it seems that almost all artists working in the contemporary electronic experimental music field have contributed one or more mixes themselves. Most of these have appeared somewhere in one of my earlier mixes.
These mixes (which are also broadcast on the  ) make Fluid Radio one of the most popular channels on Mixcloud. Fluid Radio Webchannel

Apart from that, Fluid Audio represents a label that has released some impressive music in equally impressive packages…!

The mix presented here was created specifically for Fluid Radio. It is no ‘head-tail’ mixtape, but a collage of fragments that are represented in a different context and, doing so, get a different musical meaning.
Like all of my other mixes, there are a lot of details presented in layers, creating new perspectives – ‘enhanced’ landscapes which sometimes may not be too comfortable but hopefully will be as fascinating to you as they are for me…

This particular mix was especially created for Fluid-Radio in march 2010. It was broadcast on Fluid Radio on May 20, 2010.

Laura Gibson & Ethan Rose – Bridge Carols

It must be something in the water or in the air over there in Portland, Oregon, resulting in a lot of remarkable music lately. Such as Bridge Carols, by Laura Gibson and Ethan Rose.
It’s labelled as “electro-pastoral music” and I really couldn’t think of a better description myself.  

It’s not very often that I hear a new album that gives me the feeling it is exploring completely new territories by tearing down the limitations of existing styles and influences. Bridge Carols did exactly that. It got under my skin from the very first listen and felt like a mystery to be explored.

Jana Winderen – Energy Field

Field Recordings  come in many varieties. From the documentary recordings, as true to nature as possible, to environmental soundscapes, using recorded sounds to create a completely new environment.

Presenting music by recording artists like Jacob Kirkegaard, Chris Watson and Jana WinderenTouch Music is definitely one of the finest labels in presenting this form of sound-art.

After releasing her beautiful (live) recording “Heated: Live in Japan” last year, Jana Winderen‘s “Energy Field” is her new full album on Touch.
More-than-full, actually, for  (on-line) buyers also receive a free download of Jana’s live performance on the Today’s Art festival in Den Haag, in 2009.