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Sphäre Sechs * Banished Pills * False Mirror


Sphäre Sechs


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.



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.



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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Ballerini; Opollo; Sphäre Sechs; Macheteoxidado


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

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!


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


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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