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The Long Light * Reese Williams

Plains of San Augustin

Hiraeth

THE LONG LIGHT – HIRAETH

The Long Light is another alias for The Glimmer Room, which in turn happens to be a person named Andy Condon.
“The Long Light is you on a day when nothing really matters. Those days you are free from the grind, days you embrace the rising sun and bathe in its warmth, existing carefree until the opposite horizon claims her for itself.”

With that mission statement, The Long Light perfectly describes what to expect on the 38 minute single track Hiraeth: carefree music like a warm sun bath.
But there’s another layer too, disclosed by the title: Hiraeth is an old Welsh saying that basically means ‘a longing for a home you can never return to, a home which may never have existed at all’. A bit like the Welsh version of Saudade from Portugal.

A carefree sun bath on a day where nothing really matters, while at the same time an elusive feeling of something that is missing …. those are definitely not mutually exclusive – as is demonstrated in this (download only) release from The Long Light.


Plains of San Augustin

REESE WILLIAMS –  CHAJNANTORPLAINS OF SAN AGUSTINARECIBO

Three separate parts of a series of releases inspired by and named after locations of large radio telescopes.

Plains of San Augustin is inspired by the site also known as the site of the Very Large Array (VLA) in the San Augustin Basin of west-central New Mexico. The other two are referring to Chajnantor (in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile) and Arecibo (in Puerto Rico).
These areas, their vast scale and their fascinating quest into outer space, have often inspired (ambient/electronic musicians). The plains of San Augustin perhaps more than the others since it is also reported as the site of a UFO crash landing in 1947, an event that is thought to be connected to the Roswell UFO incident.

While each composition has its own specific emphasis, all three are connected by the compositional process. The 30 minute tracks are mostly very calm, relaxing, exploring the surroundings to see what it finds.
Reese Williams does not let things get too ‘outer-spacey’: he firmly keeps control while still ‘free-floating’.



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Sphäre Sechs * Banished Pills * False Mirror

Failure

Sphäre Sechs

SPHÄRE SECHS – PARTICLE VOID  Also on Spotify

The Cryo Chamber label is a reliable source if you are looking for dark, cinematic ambient. The label’s name alone refers to outer space sci-fi adventures – and indeed: this album feels like ‘floating in cold space in a warm cozy spacesuit’.

Sphäre Sechs (‘Sixth Sphere’) is Martin ‘Phelios’ Stürtzer and Christian Stritzel. This is their third album, preceded by Tiefschlaf (2012) and Enceladus (2015) – it seems their hibernation cycle length is exactly three years. They create their music using a multitude of analogue gear, that they clearly master skillfully.

Particle Void ‘focuses on the space beyond the material’. No one knows what to expect from that place beyond imagination. But judged by this music, it’s not an uncomfortable place at all.
It may however take some time to get back to Earth at the end of this trip.


Failure

BANISHED PILLS – FAILURE

More down to earth (as opposed to outer space), but no less enigmatic is this release by Banished Pills, or Edoardo Cammisa from Italy.
Cammisa creates his music combining all kinds of sound sources: field recordings, assembled sounds, analog electronics, drones, mics and contact mics into musique-concrête like drone pieces.

Pieces that are quite dark in nature on this album – but you probably  already guessed that from the title (and the alias). If you didn’t already, the track titles like Absorption, Wane, Gloom, Edge, Moth, Void will probably help you to get in the proper listening mood.

The inspirational quote for this album comes from Jean-Paul Sartre’s Nausea: ‘ I am the one who pulls myself from the nothingness to which I aspire’.
Let this be a warning before you start listening: Failure is a strangely restrained album of gloom and anxiety.


Sigint

FALSE MIRROR – SIGINT

I probably should be ashamed, but the name False Mirror did not ring a bell and this album is my first encounter with this one man project of Berlin-based Tobias HornbergerMalignant Records introduces this album as ‘the return of one of the giants of the dark ambient genre’ – the follow-up of 2010’s Derelict World. And, judged by this album, I have missed something indeed. Time to catch up.

Sigint is thematically inspired by all kinds of ‘secret communication signals’. This means sound source ‘include recordings of various electronic transmissions, encrypted messages of the German BND (Bundesnachrichtendienst – the foreign intelligence agency) and Russian FNB (previously called KGB), beacons, over-the-horizon radars, and troposcatter communications.’
But not just those found sounds make up this album: the sources are encapsulated in rich and detailed deep ambient soundscapes.
Soundscapes that I would personally not strictly call ‘dark’, like the cover image which eerie, but not really ‘dark’ in the classic sense. This music indeed is ‘a perfectly conceptualized harmony of calming warmth and barren isolation.’

If you like to unravel hidden messages go for the CD version, which has a 12 page ‘cryptographic manual’ to decrypt a hidden message in the closing track (the one with the shortwave spy numbers) that can be used to unlock a bonus track.

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James Murray * Kassel Jaeger

Kassel Jaeger - Aster

Heavenly Waters

JAMES MURRAY – HEAVENLY WATERS  Also on Spotify

His tenth album since 2008, and the third title in 2017: James Murray is feeding us a steady flow of quality ambient music. In recent years his name became more and more familiar because of his personal style, exquisite production and recognisable sound. But this does not mean he just keeps repeating himself.

On Heavenly Waters, Murray explores a sound that is somewhat different from that on his earlier releases. Hard to tell what it is exactly, but I feel that he chose for a more -let’s say- ‘scientific’ sound (by which I mean more electronic, industrial, machine-like) as opposed to the earlier earthy organic, guitar-based (?) sound. This is emphasized by including different sound artifacts, loops and glitches  that suggest machines at work autonomously. At some point in Equuleus I even thought I heard the the usually unwanted click-glitch that you will probably recognise if you ever burnt your own CDs on the wrong speed.
But not to worry: they are all added deliberately. It stíll is a genuine James Murray album, but in a somewhat different context.

Whereas many previous album titles  almost all referred to earthly matters (Floods, The Land Bridge, The Sea in The Sky), Heavenly Waters refers to one of the astronomical constellations as described by Donald H. Mentzel in his A Field Guide to the Stars and Planets. The Heavenly Waters constellations (also knows as Cosmic Waters) are all associated with lake, river, sea creatures and ship … which in fact connects outer space to the previous earthly themes.
(And yes, I had to look all that up too, but I must confess the Wikipedia page did not explain much for me apart from the fact that there are no less than seven óther major constellations that probably each deserves its own follow-up album…).
Each track title refers to one of the sub-constellations within the Heavenly Waters constellation: Delphinus, Equuleus, Eridanus, Pisces Austrinus, Carina, Puppis, Vela, Pyxis, Columba.

Check these links if you’re interested in the astronomical details of the constellation that were the inspiration for this album.
But – maybe even better – just dón’t check these links but simply let the music on this album take you into the deep realms of outer space…


Kassel Jaeger - Aster

KASSEL JAEGER – ASTER  Also on Spotify

I would have loved to thematically connect James Murray’s ‘Heavenly Waters’ to Kassel Jaeger‘s “Aster”.
But I don’t think that there’s a connection, apart perhaps from the fact that some titles also refer to the stars (Set The Planet On Fire, You’ll Get A Star and L’Etoile Du Matin). And with a little bit of fantasy (and your eyes half-closed) the album cover (designed by Stephen O’Malley) could also be an image of some distant constellation of stars.
But however different they are, I still think these two albums fit together musically.

According to the liner notes, Kassel Jaeger (François Bonnet, current artistic director of the Groupe des Recherches Musicales) is one of the “premier explorers of electroacoustic mystical music, inheriting the wisdom of past masters (such as Pierre Schaefer) whilst forging a signature style of his own.”

The nine tracks on Aster present some recent recorded work as well as ‘works of revisits and reworkings”: “deep music replete with dark ambient sonorities swirling amongst intense buzzing tones.”
In fact I have little to add to that description…

The buzzing tones create layers of (seemingly) familiar sound environments – a distant hint of a melody slowly evolving almost hidden away in the soundscape layers. At other times there are sounds that don’t have that kind of familiar references  (like Un Autre Archipel, or Uminari), introducing an otherworldy kind of musique concrête.

Kassel Jaeger is a master of creating complex sonic atmospheres in the tradition of his earlier masters – but without becoming too academic about it.

BTW – There’s a remarkable difference in sound intensity between the tracks, which mean this album is not particularly fit to be played continuously in the background. Compare, for instance, Ner with Uminari immediately following it. This album is clearly meant for dedicated listening, not to fall asleep to!


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Michel Banabila * Cerfilic * Taâlem

Taalem vijftien

Earth Visitor

MICHEL BANABILA – EARTH VISITOR

June was a very rainy month, which was why Michel Banabila spent a lot of time watching NASA videos about the Juno mission. Or, maybe I’d better rephrase that: after watching the NASA videos he spent a lot of time creating this album which was inspired by the Juno mission.
In retrospect, we can be happy this was no ordinary sunny month, because inspired him to create this great album!

Starting out with a piano theme that demonstrates why his music works very well in theatre and documentary soundtrack settings, the tracks focus on outer space – becoming more abstract while never losing their melodic, human, touch.
Alien electronic soundscapes, sometimes ‘earthened’ with violin samples (performed by Salar Asid), piano, cat meows, and many distorted voice fragments (the kind that unmistakably identifies Banabila‘s work).

With titles like What Creature Is That and We Are The Aliens, this album’s viewpoint is nót only that of earth’s astronaut, but also  of the imaginary  Jupiter inhabitant watching the earth invaders approach.


After working ceaselessly and tirelessly for more than thirty years, recent re-issues of his early work finally gained the international acclaim it deserves (the Bureau B compilation Early Works / Things Popping Up from the Past and Astral Industries reissue of Chi Original Recordings).
But it’s important not to get stuck in the past: Banabila is alive and kicking and still creating an impressive stream of new music!
With his recent albums, Michel Banabila has explored many – often experimental –  territories. Earth Visitor demonstrates he’s also still a master of cinematic ambient!

Note: the download also contains two bonus tracks: Prayer and Space Expo Trailer 2016.


Also on Spotify


Cerfilic

CERFILIC – LA BRÂME DU CERF AU CRÉPUSCULE

The Call Of The Stag At Twilight, as the title translates, is a solo project by Jamie McCarthy, aka Cerfilic. McCarthy is a former member of the Gavin Bryars Ensemble and from the Canadian band The Hidden Cameras.
Cerfilic
 presents ‘ambient sounds with the slow and sudden changes of weather systems and cloud formations’.
La Brâme opens with a slow string piece, The Last Thirteen. Strings are the main instruments on this collection (with the occasional exception such as The Internationale Music Box), but they can sometimes gradually dissolve  into the background soundscapes which can get quite abstract as the album progresses.

 

With its long (shortest is 6’45”, longest is 25’31”), unhurried and ethereal tracks the music reminds me of the work of The Stars Of The Lid (later A Winged Victory For The Sullen).
Which is one simple and effective argument to recommend you to check out this album!


Taalem vijftien

VARIOUS ARTISTS – VIJFTIEN ANNÉES – A TAÂLEM SAMPLER

The Taâlem label’s aim is simple: “exploring the different sides of ambient music”. Their statement continues: “as we’re tired of all these ultra-limited & ultra-expensive releases, taâlem discs are unlimited editions and are sold for a cheap price. As long as demand exists, every release is available.”
The label celebrates its 15th year of existence, and it does so with this massive overview of past releases that is free to download.

Vijftien Années
(Fifteen Years,
in an unusual combination of Dutch and French) contains no less that 109 tracks selected from all physical releases – its playtime is more than 11.5 hours!
The collection is almost impossible to digest in one go – not only because of its length but also because of the contents – but when listened in parts it’s an inspiring treasure of experimental, often industrial, ambient soundscapes.
There are quite some familiar names in the collection (Daniel Menche, Aidan Baker, Jeff Stonehouse, Dronaement, Netherworld, Yui Onodera, Chihei Hatakeyama, Celer, Simon Whetham, Nobuto Suda, Strom Noir, Pleq, Yann Novak), but of course a lot of relatively unknown artists, too.
So it’s a great way to explore the label’s output and discover new sounds.

All of the tracks are edited down to about six minutes each (the originals can be much longer). As this is a ‘gift’ sampler and not a ‘real’ release, the tracks have not been re-mastered so there can be some differences in volume.
(Tip for those that download the MP3 version: MP3Gain is a helpful tool to level the overall output volume in a non-destructive way)


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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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Steve Roach; Erik Wøllo; S.E.T.I.; As Lonely as Dave Bowman

Etheric Imprints

STEVE ROACH – ETHERIC IMPRINTS
With a back catalogue boasting more than 100 releases since 1982, Steve Roach is one of the great Masters of ambient music. His output is immense: there are 6 releases mentioned on Discogs for 2015 and we’re only halfway through the year. It is also very diverse: his earlier work inspired by the likes of Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze and Vangelis, often returning to the sequencer based Berlin-school and modular synths – but also tribal rhythms inspired by the natural beauty of the southwest of the United States… and everything inbetween.
Etheric Imprints offers four long highly introspective tracks – ‘focusing on the essential elements of sound, silence, tone, and time-altering forms; peeling away the surface layers to reveal the subterranean strata beneath.’
The opening title track, with 29:42 also the longest track on the album, has a beautiful deep grand piano sound ‘responding to an expansive electro-acoustic environment’ immediately reminiscing the best of Brian Eno‘s installation works. On the subsequent tracks, the piano slowly retreats to make place for more dissonant notes, but the overall sound remains etheric and totally immersive.


echotides

ERIK W∅LLO – ECHOTIDES
I have no idea why this is called an EP, because with the total length of 43 minutes it is longer than many other ‘full’ albums.
Possibly Erik Wøllo calls it that because he doesn’t consider this to be a ‘full’ album, but rather a collection of improvised experiments using guitars and a collection of chained pedals and devices, later enriched with sequenced synthesizer and percussion elements.
But whatever the reason, Echotides feels like a complete full album to me – and a rather nice and relaxing one too!
“The whole idea of the project was to create a sustained and free floating selection of tracks built upon interacting fragments of sound and processed textures, all blended together and forming a constant morphing endless flow.”


SETI - Companion

S.E.T.I. – COMPANION (+ THE GEOMETRY OF NIGHT)
S.E.T.I. is Andrew Lagowski‘s personal Search for ExtraTerrestial Intelligence.
The Geometry of Night
 was S.E.T.I.‘s second full album, released in 1996. It now gets a double-cd-rerelease paired with a brand new ‘sister album’ called Companion.
Both albums are loosely related thematically yet quite different in nature. Geometry of Night has that typical late 90’s sound & feel, more beat-oriented,  and more light-hearted than Companion, that has no beats and presents more abstract spacey soundscapes. Some of them (like Roxs 42Bb and Rr Caeli Cataclysmic Variable) quite frightening because they sound like recordings of extra-terrestial lifeforms trying to reach out for us.
Play loud for maximum effect!



S.E.T.I. – Roxs42Bb


As Lonely as Dave Bowman

AS LONELY AS DAVE BOWMAN – MONOLITH
The project name, the album title, the track titles: everything in this project refers to Kubrick’s ground breaking sci-fi masterpiece 2001 – A Space Odyssey  (1968). ‘Monolith is a soundtrack for the final four months of Dave’s journey to Jupiter.’
2001 was (and still is) unique because of the stilistic choices made to represent life in space: no blasting spacecraft motors (‘in space, there is no sound’), and lóóng sequences, seemingly without much action, depicting the slow weightless life. This timelessness is carefully represented in the Monolith soundtrack, especially in the closing track A Long, Dark Corridor Filled With Lights. A Memory. And Then A Bright Room With Air., which is over 40 minutes long. It immediately recaptures the movie’s unforgettable closing scene.
As Lonely As Dave Bowman (Sam Rosenthalaka Black Tape For a Blue Girl side-project) creates a fully electronic revision of the soundtrack. In that, it diverts from Kubrick’s own choices: he didn’t use electronic music or the soundtrack but deliberately chose orchestral acoustics such as the Richard Strauss waltzes as well as the frightening choir music from György Ligeti.
Like the movie that inspired it, Monolith requires a certain mindset to be fully appreciated: ‘droning space, wordless drift with long suspended passages… the album touches the edges of isolation and glacial solitude, with a discernible warm human core.’
Available as a digital download album on Bandcamp, but there’s also limited Kickstarter-funded physical editions available.

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Ballerini; Opollo; Sphäre Sechs; Macheteoxidado

Macheteoxidado

Ballerini Beautiful Ground

BALLERINI – BEAUTIFUL GROUND
As part of the artist residency project Bioculture (Artwalks with wine), six different artists walked more than 250 kilometers across the Italian central region of Marche, transforming their impressions into creations that will be compiled in a multimedia e-book (and an App).
During his 20-day walk, Allessio Ballerini recorded the sounds of the locations along the route to create his soundscapes later. He didn’t only record the environment itself, but also local ‘keynote’ sounds such as examples of organ craft techniques, agricultural mechanics, etcetera.
The recordings were then mixed with synth sounds as well as various ancient italian keyboard instruments.
The result is a different kind of environmental music: ‘…it projects the listener into parallel worlds, transcending the reality we experience in everyday life… showing us a new land emerging from the old land.”
It’s a mixture of ambient quietude in the beginning and more beat driven soundscapes in the latter half of the album.
The app (not yet released at time of writing: expected in May) will feature 18 tracks; for this album the same compositions are used to create six tracks.



Ballerini – Water Organs


Opollo - Stone Tapes

OPOLLO – STONE TAPES
Looking at the cover (which is a digipak format turned 90º sideways), you’d guess the name should be Apollo, but it isn’t. Opollo is the alias of Jaroslaw Leskiewics. His music “is a meeting place of shoegaze, ambient, sludge and drone, and all of the sounds float in interplanetary space. The lightness of sonic structure is equal to zero gravity”.
I assume the title refers to the Stone Tape Theory: “the speculation that ghosts and hauntings are analogous to tape recordings, and that emotional or traumatic events can somehow be ‘stored’ in rock and other items and ‘replayed’ under certain conditions.”
Lethbridge, who proposed this idea in 1961 “believed ghosts were not spirits but simply non-interactive recordings similar to a movie”.
There is no mention of this in the accompanying album info, but even if there is no relation with this theory at all, it gives this collection of -somewhat ghostly- ambient soundscapes an interesting new dimension!


Enceladus

SPHÄRE SECHS – ENCELADUS
Also presented as a trip into space – “beyond the reaches of light and into realms never before explored” – is this deep drone album by Martin Stürtzer and Christian Striztel.
There’s an overload of drone albums nowadays, but some jump out above average due to their sound design – or simply because they ‘resonate’ with the listener. This one does that for me, because of its deep, well produced  and unhurried sound – somewhat reminiscent of Sleep Research Facility.
“Recorded solely on analog equipment without the use of computers. Best played on headphones or in solitude for maximum effect.”

Also on Spotify


Macheteoxidado

MACHETEOXIDADO – VIENTO DE LAS MONTAÑAS
Returning from space we land in Mexico, to enjoy wind coming from the mountains. It remains unclear who’s hiding behind the rusty machete alias (which, to be exact, should be written as ~~^^^macheteoxidado^^^~~: I left out the symbols for readability), we only know this is his (?) debut release on the relatively new dutch label Shimmering Moods Records.
The use of atmospheric instrumentals and prominent field recordings make this album feel like an adventure trek through an unknown, dreamy and windy landscape.
“Viento de las montañas is deeply narrative. But it is not told in normal words. Only with repeat listens can you explore this world, and you will notice new glows, murky pools, whistling wells. Then you will forget them as you notice other smoldering orbs, there, under that Oak. Then you will remember again.”


~~^^^macheteoxidado^^^~~ – Hay Tantas Cosas

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Alva Noto – Xerrox Vol. 3

Xerrox Vol. 3

Xerrox Vol. 3 is the third part (duh!) in what is going to be a five part series inspired by the process of copying.
All three parts have their subtitle: “Old World” (Xerrox Vol. 1, 2007), “New World” (Xerrox Vol. 2, 2009) – and  now Vol. 3 is labeled: “Towards Space” .

It took five years to release this part of the Xerrox series. There were other Alva Noto releases in that time, but this one returns to the basic concept of copying (sometimes referred to as Xerroxing):
“using the process of copying as a basis, the xerrox series deals with the manipulation of data by means of endless reproduction. Due to the inherent vice of the procedure that becomes especially visible when copies are made from copies, everyday sound are so much altered that they can be hardly associated with the source material anymore. As a result, entirely new sounds are created that, being copies of originals, become originals themselves.” 

When comparing this third album to its predecessors in the same series, it seems that the sounds here are somewhat more ’emotional’ than before.
I don’t mean to say that the previous editions were without emotions (because they weren’t) – but there ís a difference… It’s as if the copying process has been made secondary to conveying more personal emotions this time.
As if the copies have become originals, maybe?

No doubt this can also be related to Alva Noto‘s source of inspiration: his childhood film memories from the 1970’s including Tarkovsky’s Solaris and La Isla Misteriosa Y el Capitán Nemo.
The combination of the xerroxed sounds, detached from its originals, with the quiet, unhurried melodic arrangements indeed breathes the same mysterious atmosphere that has made Solaris into one of the greatest movies of all time.

While the concept of the repeated copying as a continuous process sounds somewhat theoretical, the result is suprisingly personal: “a personal reflection of dreams, an imaginary journey through emotional landscapes”.
A suprise also for Carsten Nicolai himself: “I have to admit that this emotional output is a surprise even for myself”.

If Xerrox were intended to be a trilogy, this would have been the perfect finale.
But it does not stop here, and with two more parts to go we can only wonder where Alva Noto will go from here. I guess the only one possible destiny can be the future
 … and – no doubt – far beyond.

Also on Spotify

ALVA NOTO – XERROX ISOLA

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Pinkcourtesyphone; Triac; Chelidon Frame; Max Corbacho

Future Terrain

Three Themes

PINKCOURTESYPHONE – THREE THEMES
“Music for wine time”… which, according to the titles of the first two tracks Afternoon Theme and Evening Theme, covers the afternoon as well as the eveningBoth themes are extended (23 minute) and revised versions of work from 1997.
The third track 62000 Valentines (envelope version) is the extended version of a track that previously appeared on A Ravishment of Mirror.
The first two tracks are perfect if you’re in a ‘Basinski state of mind’: endless loops of a single simple phrase, showly shifting the background into the foreground, almost unnoticeably changing – like the light during wine time.
62000 Valentines 
is different: the sound of a vinyl runout-groove gradually gets accompanied by a very deep (Thomas Köner-like) drone background that slowly becomes unavoidable and all-encompassing.

Also on Spotify


DaysTRIAC – DAYS
Discogs lists a few acts under the same name – in a diversity of musical fields – , but this particular Triac refers to the Italian trio consisting of Rossano Polidoro (laptop, also known from TU M’), Marco Seracini (piano, synth) and Augusto Tatone (electric bass).
Days is their second album, and their debut on the Line label.
Their work explores “the relations between sound/space atmosheres and natural elements” – in this particular case by means of “dazzling yet smooth distant drones that almost hover in the air. The sound of the slowest moving picture and subtle flickering lights beyond it”.
Starting out with a ‘classic’ drone (almost like the drone of an Indian raga) the next days explores different drone variations, some lighter (Day Three), some darker (Day Six) – but without losing the reassuring calmness of pure timeless beauty.

Also on Spotify


Chelidon Frame
CHELIDON FRAME – FRAMEWORK (FREE download)
The first album by Alessio Premoli (Chelidon Frame) (exploring “sounds, noises, drones and minimalism, from an ambient point of view”) shows an interesting diversity in sound: from incorporating musique concrete to ‘circular guitar riffs’ and electronic drums and speech manipulations in ‘Cosmic Hypnosis’. His contributions for IFAR (Institute for Alien Research) “question some of the modern visions on concrete music”.
The longest track (11 min) on this free download album is Antarctica: “The white loneliness of one of the last deserts approached through the waves of a deep blue ocean.”. This particular track was chosen as part of a ‘sonic ambulation project’ “here.now.where?” in the 2014 fifth Marrakech Biennale: it was broadcast inside the city taxis “to give the opportunity to experiment a different view of the sonic ambient of the city.”
Remembering my brief experience with Marrakech taxis, that must’ve been quite some alienation experience!

Also on Spotify


Future Terrain
MAX CORBACHO – FUTURE TERRAIN / SPLENDID LABYRINTHS
“Ultra low, extended bass tones and organ-like massive sound waves flowing in a continuous, dark, pitch black loop”.
Future Terrain is offered as a Name Your Price download, but only for a limited time. It was created to listen at a low (‘subliminal’) level, but things may possibly start to shake uncontrollably when you play it loud.

Splendid Labyrinths

The 58 minute futuristic sci-fi landscape was created as a ‘by-product’ – parallel emerging tracks – at the sessions for Corbacho‘s  new full album Splendid Labyrinthswhich will see its release on May 15.
The six long tracks of Splendid Labyrinths (73 minutes) are considerably less dark than Future Terrain, but the stretched layers of ‘space music synths’ are indeed a good place to immerse yourself in and get lost.
This is the follow up to 2012’s Ocean Inside, and continues Corbacho’s search for “new harmony structures and calm spaces”. 


MAX CORBACHO – EARTH WOMB

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Joe Frawley; Francesco Giannico; Man Eats Fish; Koshshi Kamata; Off Land
-shortlist –

Satyrinae

In the Shortlist sections, I will mention the albums that I enjoyed listening to, but couldn’t find the time (or the right words) for a “full review” for. But still, these albums definitely deserve your attention!

Satyrinae

JOE FRAWLEY – SATYRINAE
With the ten albums he has released since 2007, Joe Frawley has created a very personal, recognizable style – a style he aptly describes as ‘Dream Projections – Memory Experiments’. It is a collage-like style, using “restrained piano improvisations, found sounds, sample loops and ambient electronics to create lush atmospheres, which frequently devolve into unsettling deamlike episodes.”
Influenced more by visual artists than other musicians, he often created a David-Lynch-like atmosphere with his music – where things are not what they seem to be.
Among the seven (mostly) instrumental tracks, there is one vocal piece, “Hold up the light”, which dangerously balances on the border of becoming too sentimental (to my taste, that is). But halfway into this track it seems to drift away into another one of Joe Frawley‘s alternate realities.

Also on Spotify


Metrophony

FRANCESO GIANNICO – METROPHONY
A 40 minute field recording symphony, based on the entire route of the “B” line of the Rome subway, connecting the Rebibbia station with the Laurentina station, and the “B1” line connecting the Bologna station with the Conca D’Oro station.
The sounds of the metro trip are effectively coloured by added instruments such as guitars, piano and violins.
As always this Time Released Sound edition comes in a standard digipack as well as in a beautiful luxury special edition.


Sound: Francesco Giannico – Video: Elena Manzari


Recollective

MAN EATS FISH – RECOLLECTIVE
Copenhagen-bases Niklas Schak has produced more than 60 film and (dance) theatre soundtracks, but this is his first release under the Man Eats Fish pseudonym.
“Recollective”  is contemporary Musique Concrête (with a surprising bright sound) combined with neo-classical string arrangements.
“Concrete sounds with a lot of presence, combined with abstract electronic texture and newly written and recorded works for string quartet.”
“Lost memories”
are the main theme of the album. And if these memories are not complétely lost they certainly do not reflect the reality of daily life any more…. it’s like walking around like Alice in a rather weird wonderland.


MAN EATS FISH – BIRDS


Seven Most

KOHSHI KAMATA – SEVEN MOST
Berlin-based Japanese composer Kohshi Kamata uses MAXMSD, PD processing in creating and performing his music.
The tracks  on “Seven Most” are rather complicated abstract and experimental electronics, but for Kamata they “deeply express the complicated and unverbalized that I felt at the time. They are extremely personal…Even now I can feel the indescribable color, currency and feeling generated in these things”.
And of course, he expresses the hope that “you the listener can also hear and feel this too when you listen.”

Also on Spotify

KOSHSHI KAMATA – LANDFALL


Quinarian

OFF LAND – QUINARIAN
“The Quinarian system was a method of zoological classification, briefly popular in the mid 19th century, which regarded all animal groups as being naturally divisible by five.”
I’m not sure how this translates to the music of this new album by Tim “Off Land” Dwyer – apart from the fact that the album has five tracks. With “Quinarian”, “he showcases his love of Space Ambient” which will definitely appeal to the fans of Pete Namlook and Tangerine Dream.

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